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Cell Physiol Biochem. 2017;43(1):282-292. doi: 10.1159/000480371. Epub 2017 Aug 30.

MicroRNA-222 Promotes the Proliferation of Pulmonary Arterial Smooth Muscle Cells by Targeting P27 and TIMP3.

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Department of Cardiology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China.
Cardiac Regeneration and Ageing Lab, School of Life Science, Shanghai University, Shanghai, China.



Aberrant vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) proliferation plays an important role in the development of pulmonary artery hypertension (PAH). Dysregulated microRNAs (miRNAs, miRs) have been implicated in the progression of PAH. miR-222 has a pro-proliferation effect on VSMCs while it has an anti-proliferation effect on vascular endothelial cells (ECs). As the biological function of a single miRNA could be cell-type specific, the role of miR-222 in pulmonary artery smooth muscle cell (PASMC) proliferation is not clear and deserves to be explored.


PASMCs were transfected with miR-222 mimic or inhibitor and PASMC proliferation was determined by Western blot for PCNA, Ki-67 and EdU staining, and cell number counting. The target genes of miR-222 including P27 and TIMP3 were determined by luciferase assay and Western blot. In addition, the functional rescue experiments were performed based on miR-222 inhibitor and siRNAs to target genes.


miR-222 mimic promoted PASMC proliferation while miR-222 inhibitor decreased that. TIMP3 was identified to be a direct target gene of miR-222 based on luciferase assay. Meanwhile, P27 and TIMP3 were up-regulated by miR-222 inhibitor and down-regulated by miR-222 mimic. Moreover, P27 siRNA and TIMP3 siRNA could both attenuate the anti-proliferation effect of miR-222 inhibitor in PASMCs, supporting that P27 and TIMP3 are at least partially responsible for the regulatory effect of miR-222 in PASMCs.


miR-222 promotes PASMC proliferation at least partially through targeting P27 and TIMP3.


MiR-222; Proliferation; Pulmonary artery hypertension; Pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells

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