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Cell. 2005 Dec 2;123(5):819-31.

A minicircuitry comprised of microRNA-223 and transcription factors NFI-A and C/EBPalpha regulates human granulopoiesis.

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Department of Histology and Medical Embryology, University of Rome La Sapienza and San Raffaele Biomedical Science Park of Rome, Via di Castel Romano 100, 00128, Rome, Italy.


MicroRNAs play important roles in cell differentiation by acting as translational inhibitors of specific target genes. Here we show that human granulocytic differentiation is controlled by a regulatory circuitry involving miR-223 and two transcriptional factors, NFI-A and C/EBPalpha. The two factors compete for binding to the miR-223 promoter: NFI-A maintains miR-223 at low levels, whereas its replacement by C/EBPalpha, following retinoic acid (RA)-induced differentiation, upregulates miR-223 expression. The competition by C/EBPalpha and the granulocytic differentiation are favored by a negative-feedback loop in which miR-223 represses NFI-A translation. In line with this, both RNAi against NFI-A and ectopic expression of miR-223 in acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) cells enhance differentiation, whereas miR-223 knockdown inhibits the differentiation response to RA. Altogether, our data indicate that miR-223 plays a crucial role during granulopoiesis and point to the NFI-A repression as an important molecular pathway mediating gene reprogramming in this cell lineage.

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