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PLoS One. 2011 Jan 31;6(1):e16250. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016250.

MicroRNAs differentially expressed in postnatal aortic development downregulate elastin via 3' UTR and coding-sequence binding sites.

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Institute for Medical Genetics, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany.


Elastin production is characteristically turned off during the maturation of elastin-rich organs such as the aorta. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small regulatory RNAs that down-regulate target mRNAs by binding to miRNA regulatory elements (MREs) typically located in the 3' UTR. Here we show a striking up-regulation of miR-29 and miR-15 family miRNAs during murine aortic development with commensurate down-regulation of targets including elastin and other extracellular matrix (ECM) genes. There were a total of 14 MREs for miR-29 in the coding sequences (CDS) and 3' UTR of elastin, which was highly significant, and up to 22 miR-29 MREs were found in the CDS of multiple ECM genes including several collagens. This overrepresentation was conserved throughout mammalian evolution. Luciferase reporter assays showed synergistic effects of miR-29 and miR-15 family miRNAs on 3' UTR and coding-sequence elastin constructs. Our results demonstrate that multiple miR-29 and miR-15 family MREs are characteristic for some ECM genes and suggest that miR-29 and miR-15 family miRNAs are involved in the down-regulation of elastin in the adult aorta.

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