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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e39674. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039674. Epub 2012 Jul 6.

Combinatorial action of miRNAs regulates transcriptional and post-transcriptional gene silencing following in vivo PNS injury.

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Molecular Neuroscience Laboratory, Weis Center for Research, Geisinger Clinic, Danville, Pennsylvania, United States of America.


Injury response in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) is characterized by rapid alterations in the genetic program of Schwann cells. However, the epigenetic mechanisms modulating these changes remain elusive. Here we show that sciatic nerve injury in mice induces a cohort of 22 miRNAs, which coordinate Schwann cell differentiation and dedifferentiation through a combinatorial modulation of their positive and negative gene regulators. These miRNAs and their targeted mRNAs form functional complexes with the Argonaute-2 protein to mediate post-transcriptional gene silencing. MiR-138 and miR-709 show the highest affinity amongst the cohort, for binding and regulation of Egr2, Sox-2 and c-Jun expression following injury. Moreover, miR-709 participates in the formation of epigenetic silencing complexes with H3K27me3 and Argonaute-1 to induce transcriptional gene silencing of the Egr2 promoter. Collectively, we identified a discrete cohort of miRNAs as the central epigenetic regulators of the transition between differentiation and dedifferentiation during the acute phase of PNS injury.

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