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Cell Death Dis. 2013 Aug 29;4:e780. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2013.301.

Pro-apoptotic miRNA-128-2 modulates ABCA1, ABCG1 and RXRα expression and cholesterol homeostasis.

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Functional Genomics Unit, CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Delhi, India.


Aberrant regulation of cholesterol homeostasis is associated with obesity as well as multiple types of cancer. However, the mechanism behind these is largely missing. Here, we show that microRNA (miRNA)-128-2 is not only a pro-apoptotic microRNA but it also alters the expression of genes involved in cellular cholesterol homeostasis. Cholesterol efflux via ATP-binding cassette transporters (ABCA1 and ABCG1) is a mechanism for cells to eliminate excess cholesterol and prevent cellular cholesterol accumulation. The regulation of these pathways is complex with transcriptional regulation by sterol-regulatory element-binding protein (SREBP) and liver X receptor/retinoid X receptor (RXR) transcription factors but poorly understood at the post-transcriptional levels. MiR-128-2 increases the expression of SREBP2 and decreases the expression of SREBP1 in HepG2, MCF7 and HEK293T cells independent of sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) status. MiR-128-2 inhibits the expression of ABCA1, ABCG1 and RXRα directly through a miR-128-2-binding site within their respective 3'untranslated regions. The administration of miR-128-2 leads to decline in the protein and mRNA levels of ABCA1, ABCG1 and RXRα. Conversely, anti-miRNA treatment leads to increased ABCA1, ABCG1 and RXRα expression. The inverse correlation between miR-128-2 and its targets viz. ABCA1 and ABCG1 was also established during high-fat diet in different mice tissues. Our data show that cholesterol efflux is attenuated by miR-128-2 overexpression and, conversely, stimulated by miR-128-2 silencing. Further, we also observed the induction of ER stress response by miR-128-2. In this study, we provide the first evidence of miR-128-2 to be a new regulator of cholesterol homeostasis. Our study shows dual role of miR-128-2, as a pro-apoptotic molecule as well as a regulator of cholesterol homeostasis.

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