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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2009 May;34(6):1395-405. doi: 10.1038/npp.2008.131. Epub 2008 Aug 13.

Evidence for selective microRNAs and their effectors as common long-term targets for the actions of mood stabilizers.

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Laboratory of Molecular Pathophysiology, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate messenger RNA (mRNA) translation in a sequence-specific manner and are emerging as critical regulators of central nervous system plasticity. We found hippocampal miRNA level changes following chronic treatment with mood stabilizers (lithium and valproate (VPA)). Several of these miRNAs were then confirmed by quantitative PCR: let-7b, let-7c, miR-128a, miR-24a, miR-30c, miR-34a, miR-221, and miR-144. The predicted effectors of these miRNAs are involved in neurite outgrowth, neurogenesis, and signaling of PTEN, ERK, and Wnt/beta-catenin pathways. Interestingly, several of these effector-coding genes are also genetic risk candidates for bipolar disorder. We provide evidence that treatment with mood stabilizers increases these potential susceptibility genes in vivo: dipeptidyl-peptidase 10, metabotropic glutamate receptor 7 (GRM7), and thyroid hormone receptor, beta. Treatment of primary cultures with lithium- or VPA-lowered levels of miR-34a and elevated levels of GRM7, a predicted effector of miR-34a. Conversely, miR-34a precursor treatment lowered GRM7 levels and treatment with a miR-34a inhibitor enhanced GRM7 levels. These data confirm that endogenous miR-34a regulates GRM7 levels and supports the notion that miR-34a contributes to the effects of lithium and VPA on GRM7. These findings are the first to demonstrate that miRNAs and their predicted effectors are targets for the action of psychotherapeutic drugs.

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