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Nucleic Acids Res. 2013 Nov;41(21):9753-63. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkt666. Epub 2013 Aug 20.

miR-146a-5p circuitry uncouples cell proliferation and migration, but not differentiation, in human mesenchymal stem cells.

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Department of Life Sciences, Institute of Microbiology and Immunology, National Yang-Ming University, Linong St. Taipei, Taiwan 11221, Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine, Tri-Service General Hospital, National Defense Medical Center, Chenggong Rd. Taipei, Taiwan 11490, Department of Medical Research and Education, Taipei Veteran General Hospital, Shipai Rd., Taipei, Taiwan 11217, Stem Cell Research Center, National Yang-Ming University, Linong St. Taipei, Taiwan 11221, Institute of Clinical Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan, Veteran General Hospital-Yang Ming Genome Research Center, National Yang-Ming University, Linong St. Taipei, Taiwan 11221, Department of Education and Research, Taipei City Hospital, Zhengzhou Rd. Taipei, Taiwan 10341 and Cancer Research Center and Genome Research Center, National Yang-Ming University, Linong St. Taipei, Taiwan 11221.


Administration of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) has the potential to ameliorate degenerative disorders and to repair damaged tissues. The homing of transplanted MSCs to injured sites is a critical property of engraftment. Our aim was to identify microRNAs involved in controlling MSC proliferation and migration. MSCs can be isolated from bone marrow and umbilical cord Wharton's jelly (BM-MSCs and WJ-MSCs, respectively), and WJ-MSCs show poorer motility yet have a better amplification rate compared with BM-MSCs. Small RNA sequencing revealed that miR-146a-5p is significantly overexpressed and has high abundance in WJ-MSCs. Knockdown of miR-146a-5p in WJ-MSCs inhibited their proliferation yet enhanced their migration, whereas overexpression of miR-146a-5p in BM-MSCs did not influence their osteogenic and adipogenic potentials. Chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 12 (CXCL12), together with SIKE1, which is an I-kappa-B kinase epsilon (IKKε) suppressor, is a direct target of miR-146a-5p in MSCs. Knockdown of miR-146a-5p resulted in the down-regulation of nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-κB) activity, which is highly activated in WJ-MSCs and is known to activate miR-146a-5p promoter. miR-146a-5p is also downstream of CXCL12, and a negative feedback loop is therefore formed in MSCs. These findings suggest that miR-146a-5p is critical to the uncoupling of motility and proliferation of MSCs. Our miRNome data also provide a roadmap for further understanding MSC biology.

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