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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2013 Jan;133:129-39. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2012.09.005. Epub 2012 Sep 24.

Identification of microRNAs as a potential novel regulatory mechanism in HSD11B1 expression.

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Institute of Toxicology and Pharmacology for Natural Scientists, University Medical School Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Kiel, Brunswiker Str. 10, 24105 Kiel, Germany.


11β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11β-HSD1, gene HSD11B1) converts glucocorticoid receptor-inert cortisone to receptor-active cortisol. Multiple evidence supports a causal role for 11β-HSD1 in the current obesity epidemic. In obese, HSD11B1 expression is increased in adipose tissue but typically decreased in liver, and the underlying tissue-specific mechanisms are largely unknown. In this context, we investigated a potential role of microRNAs (miRNAs). We used several miRNA target prediction tools to identify possible candidates and a publicly available miRNA expression atlas to further select candidates expressed in hepatocytes. Using a dual luciferase reporter assay, we identified three potential miRNAs, hsa-miR-340, -561 and -579, as potential negative regulators of HSD11B1 expression. Disruption of the corresponding microRNA response elements abolished repression of luciferase activity for hsa-miR-561 and -579, but not for hsa-miR-340. Furthermore, levels of firefly luciferase mRNA were not changed by miR-561 and -579, indicating a mechanism based on translational repression rather than mRNA degradation. Finally, we were able to detect both, miR-561 and -579, in human total liver RNA by reverse-transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). According to the presented results, miR-561 and -579 are likely to be involved in the tissue-specific regulation of HSD11B1 expression. Moreover, literature findings and a pathway enrichment analysis support a potential role of these two miRNAs in glucocorticoid metabolism and signalling and associated diseases.

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