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Mol Ther. 2012 Jun;20(6):1222-33. doi: 10.1038/mt.2012.35. Epub 2012 Mar 20.

Loss of miR-29 in myoblasts contributes to dystrophic muscle pathogenesis.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong SAR, China.


microRNAs (miRNAs) are noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expression in post-transcriptional fashion, and emerging studies support their importance in a multitude of physiological and pathological processes. Here, we describe the regulation and function of miR-29 in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and its potential use as therapeutic target. Our results demonstrate that miR-29 expression is downregulated in dystrophic muscles of mdx mice, a model of DMD. Restoration of its expression by intramuscular and intravenous injection improved dystrophy pathology by both promoting regeneration and inhibiting fibrogenesis. Mechanistic studies revealed that loss of miR-29 in muscle precursor cells (myoblasts) promotes their transdifferentiation into myofibroblasts through targeting extracellular molecules including collagens and microfibrillar-associated protein 5 (Mfap5). We further demonstrated that miR-29 is under negative regulation by transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signaling. Together, these results not only identify TGF-β-miR-29 as a novel regulatory axis during myoblasts conversion into myofibroblasts which constitutes a novel contributing route to muscle fibrogenesis of DMD but also implicate miR-29 replacement therapy as a promising treatment approach for DMD.

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