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Glia. 2016 May;64(5):743-62. doi: 10.1002/glia.22958. Epub 2016 Jan 6.

miR-124-9-9* potentiates Ascl1-induced reprogramming of cultured Müller glia.

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Department of Biological Structure, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.


The Müller glia of fish provide a source for neuronal regeneration after injury, but they do not do so in mammals. We previously showed that lentiviral gene transfer of the transcription factor Achaete-scute homolog 1 (Ascl1/Mash1) in murine Müller glia cultures resulted in partial reprogramming of the cells to retinal progenitors. The microRNAs (miRNAs) miR-124-9-9* facilitate neuronal reprogramming of fibroblasts, but their role in glia reprogramming has not been reported. The aim of this study was to test whether (1) lentiviral gene transfer of miR-124-9-9* can reprogram Müller glia into retinal neurons and (2) miR-124-9-9* can improve Ascl1-induced reprogramming. Primary Müller glia cultures were generated from postnatal day (P) 11/12 mice, transduced with lentiviral particles, i.e., miR-124-9-9*-RFP, nonsense-RFP, Ascl1-GFP, or GFP-control. Gene expression and immunofluorescence analyses were performed within 3 weeks after infection. 1. Overexpression of miR-124-9-9* induced the expression of the proneural factor Ascl1 and additional markers of neurons, including TUJ1 and MAP2. 2. When Ascl1 and miR-124-9-9* were combined, 50 to 60% of Müller glia underwent neuronal reprogramming, whereas Ascl1 alone results in a 30 to 35% reprogramming rate. 3. Analysis of the miR-124-9-9* treated glial cells showed a reduction in the level of Ctdsp1 and Ptbp1, indicating a critical role for the REST pathway in the repression of neuronal genes in Müller glia. Our data further suggest that miR-124-9-9* and the REST complex may play a role in regulating the reprogramming of Müller glia to progenitors that underlies retinal regeneration in zebrafish.


Ctdsp1/SCP1; Ptbp1/PTB; REST; microRNA; neuronal differentiation; retina

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of Potential Conflicts of Interest The authors indicate no potential conflicts of interest.

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