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PLoS One. 2008;3(11):e3652. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003652. Epub 2008 Nov 6.

A miRNA signature of prion induced neurodegeneration.

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Molecular PathoBiology, National Microbiology Laboratory, Canadian Science Center for Human and Animal Health, Public Health Agency of Canada, Winnipeg, Canada.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, non-coding RNA molecules which are emerging as key regulators of numerous cellular processes. Compelling evidence links miRNAs to the control of neuronal development and differentiation, however, little is known about their role in neurodegeneration. We used microarrays and RT-PCR to profile miRNA expression changes in the brains of mice infected with mouse-adapted scrapie. We determined 15 miRNAs were de-regulated during the disease processes; miR-342-3p, miR-320, let-7b, miR-328, miR-128, miR-139-5p and miR-146a were over 2.5 fold up-regulated and miR-338-3p and miR-337-3p over 2.5 fold down-regulated. Only one of these miRNAs, miR-128, has previously been shown to be de-regulated in neurodegenerative disease. De-regulation of a unique subset of miRNAs suggests a conserved, disease-specific pattern of differentially expressed miRNAs is associated with prion-induced neurodegeneration. Computational analysis predicted numerous potential gene targets of these miRNAs, including 119 genes previously determined to be also de-regulated in mouse scrapie. We used a co-ordinated approach to integrate miRNA and mRNA profiling, bioinformatic predictions and biochemical validation to determine miRNA regulated processes and genes potentially involved in disease progression. In particular, a correlation between miRNA expression and putative gene targets involved in intracellular protein-degradation pathways and signaling pathways related to cell death, synapse function and neurogenesis was identified.

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