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Dev Biol. 2011 Apr 15;352(2):299-307. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2011.01.030. Epub 2011 Feb 3.

Mesenchymal miR-21 regulates branching morphogenesis in murine submandibular gland in vitro.

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Department of Pharmacology, Asahi University School of Dentistry, 1851 Hozumi, Mizuho, Gifu 501–0296, Japan.


Branching morphogenesis in murine submandibular glands (SMG) is regulated by growth factors, extracellular matrix (ECM) and many biological processes through interactions between the epithelium and the mesenchyme. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a set of small, non-protein-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. We hypothesized that branching morphogenesis is partly regulated by miRNAs. Forty-four miRNAs and novel miRNA candidates were detected in SMG at embryonic day 13 by a cloning method combined with Argonaute-2 immunoprecipitation. MicroRNA21 (miR-21) expression in the mesenchyme was up-regulated and accelerated by epidermal growth factor, which is known to enhance branching morphogenesis in vitro. Down-regulation of miR-21 in the mesenchyme by locked nucleic acids was associated with a decrease in the number of epithelial buds. Relative quantification of candidates for target genes of miR-21 indicated that two messenger RNAs (for Reck and Pdcd4) were down-regulated in the mesenchyme, where miR-21 expression levels were up-regulated. These results suggest that branching morphogenesis is regulated by miR-21 through gene expression related to ECM degradation in the mesenchyme.

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