microRNA-146a (miR-146a) has been previously implicated as an essential molecular brake, preventing immune overreaction and malignant transformation by attenuating NF-κB signaling, putatively via repression of the Traf6 and Irak1 genes. The exact contribution of miR-146a-mediated silencing of these genes to the control of immune activation is currently unknown. Therefore, we defined the role of the miR-146a-Traf6 signaling axis in the regulation of immune homeostasis using a genetic epistasis analysis in miR-146a-/- mice. We have uncovered a surprising separation of functions at the level of miR-146a targets. Lowering the Traf6 gene dose and consequent attenuation of NF-κB activation rescued several significant miR-146a-/- phenotypes, such as splenomegaly, aberrant myeloproliferation, and excessive inflammatory responses. In contrast, decreasing Traf6 expression had no effect on the development of the progressive bone marrow failure phenotype, as well as lymphomagenesis in miR-146a-/- mice, indicating that miR-146a controls these biological processes through different molecular mechanisms.
Keywords: IFN-γ; Traf6; inflammation; miR-146a; microRNA.