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Front Mol Neurosci. 2013 Nov 26;6:43. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2013.00043. eCollection 2013.

A comprehensive characterization of the nuclear microRNA repertoire of post-mitotic neurons.

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Biochemisch-Pharmakologisches Centrum, Institut für Physiologische Chemie, Philipps-Universität Marburg Marburg, Germany.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs with important functions in the development and plasticity of post-mitotic neurons. In addition to the well-described cytoplasmic function of miRNAs in post-transcriptional gene regulation, recent studies suggested that miRNAs could also be involved in transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulatory processes in the nuclei of proliferating cells. However, whether miRNAs localize to and function within the nucleus of post-mitotic neurons is unknown. Using a combination of microarray hybridization and small RNA deep sequencing, we identified a specific subset of miRNAs which are enriched in the nuclei of neurons. Nuclear enrichment of specific candidate miRNAs (miR-25 and miR-92a) could be independently validated by Northern blot, quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). By cross-comparison to published reports, we found that nuclear accumulation of miRNAs might be linked to a down-regulation of miRNA expression during in vitro development of cortical neurons. Importantly, by generating a comprehensive isomiR profile of the nuclear and cytoplasmic compartments, we found a significant overrepresentation of guanine nucleotides (nt) at the 3'-terminus of nuclear-enriched isomiRs, suggesting the presence of neuron-specific mechanisms involved in miRNA nuclear localization. In conclusion, our results provide a starting point for future studies addressing the nuclear function of specific miRNAs and the detailed mechanisms underlying subcellular localization of miRNAs in neurons and possibly other polarized cell types.


deep sequencing; isomiR; miRNA; microarray; neuronal development; plasticity

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