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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Aug 27;110(35):E3291-300. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1302797110. Epub 2013 Aug 12.

let-7 and miR-140 microRNAs coordinately regulate skeletal development.

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  • 1Endocrine Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play critical roles in multiple processes of skeletal development. A global reduction of miRNAs in growth plate chondrocytes results in defects in both proliferation and differentiation; however, specific microRNAs responsible for these defects have not been identified. In this study, we provide evidence that let-7 miRNAs and microRNA-140 (miR-140), among other miRNAs expressed in chondrocytes, play major roles in endochondral bone development. We overexpressed lin-28 homolog A (Lin28a) to inhibit let-7 miRNA biogenesis in growth plate chondrocytes. Lin28a overexpression efficiently and specifically reduced let-7 miRNAs and up-regulated let-7 target genes. However, unlike the previous notion that let-7 miRNAs inhibit proliferation and growth, suppression of let-7 miRNAs via Lin28a overexpression decreased proliferation in growth plate chondrocytes, likely through up-regulation of the let-7 target cell cycle regulators cell division cycle 34 (Cdc34) and E2F transcription factor 5 (E2F5). Deficiency of the chondrocyte-specific miRNA, miR-140, causes a differentiation defect in growth plate chondrocytes. Although either Lin28a overexpression or miR-140 deficiency alone caused only mild growth impairment, mice with both miR-140 deficiency and Lin28a overexpression in chondrocytes showed a dramatic growth defect. Deregulation of distinct processes in the absence of these miRNAs synergistically decreased the proliferating chondrocyte mass; miR-140 deficiency reduced differentiation into proliferating chondrocytes, whereas Lin28a overexpression decreased proliferation per se.


chondrocyte differentiation; chondrocyte proliferation; mouse

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