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Nat Genet. 2010 Dec;42(12):1101-8. doi: 10.1038/ng.709. Epub 2010 Nov 7.

miR-212 and miR-132 are required for epithelial stromal interactions necessary for mouse mammary gland development.

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Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Max Planck Institute of Biophysical Chemistry, Goettingen, Germany.


MicroRNAs are small noncoding RNAs that carry out post-transcriptional regulation of the expression of their target genes. However, their roles in mammalian organogenesis are only beginning to be understood. Here we show that the microRNA-212/132 family (which comprises miR-212 and miR-132) is indispensable during the development of the mammary glands in mice, particularly for the regulation of the outgrowth of the epithelial ducts. Mammary transplantation experiments revealed that the function of the miR-212/132 family is required in the stroma but not in the epithelia. Both miR-212 and miR-132 are expressed exclusively in mammary stroma and directly target the matrix metalloproteinase MMP-9. In glands that lack miR-212 and miR-132, MMP-9 expression increases and accumulates around the ducts. This may interfere with collagen deposition and lead to hyperactivation of the tumor growth factor-β signaling pathway, thereby impairing ductal outgrowth. Our results identify the miR-212/132 family as one of the main regulators of the epithelial-stromal interactions that are required for proper pubertal development of the mammary gland.

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