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Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2011 Jan;91(1):94-100. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2010.11.006. Epub 2010 Dec 13.

MicroRNA-15a positively regulates insulin synthesis by inhibiting uncoupling protein-2 expression.

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Department of Endocrinology & Metabolism, Changzheng Hospital, Second Military Medical University, 415 Fengyang Road, Shanghai 200003, China.


MicroRNAs are small noncoding RNAs that have been highly conserved during evolution and have been implicated to play an important role in many diseases, including diabetes. Several reports indicated the function of miRNAs in insulin production. However, the mechanisms by which miRNAs regulate this process remain poorly understood. Here we found that the expression of miR-15a was up-regulated in the presence of high glucose for 1h, whereas prolonged periods of high glucose exposure resulted in depressed expression of miR-15a, and the change in expression levels of miR-15a coincided with insulin biosynthesis. Moreover, ectopic expression of miR-15a promoted insulin biosynthesis in MIN6 cells, whereas its repression was sufficient to inhibit insulin biosynthesis. Further, we verified that miR-15a directly targeted and inhibited uncoupling protein-2 (UCP-2) gene expression. miR-15a mimics inhibited UCP-2 3'UTR luciferase reporter activity. Western blot analysis showed that miR-15a inhibited endogenous UCP-2 protein levels, and resulted in the increase in oxygen consumption and reduced ATP generation. This study suggests miR-15a is a mediator of β cell function and insulin biosynthesis, thus offering a new target for the development of preventive or therapeutic agents against diabetes.

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