E-Cadherin Expression Is Regulated by miR-192/215 by a Mechanism That Is Independent of the Profibrotic Effects of Transforming Growth Factor-β

  1. Phillip Kantharidis1
  1. 1Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Danielle Alberti Memorial Centre for Diabetes Complications, Diabetes Division, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Victoria, Australia;
  2. 2Academic and Children's Renal Unit, University of Bristol, Bristol, U.K.;
  3. 3Centre for Cancer Biology, SA Pathology, and Department of Medicine, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia;
  4. 4Department of Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
  1. Corresponding author: Phillip Kantharidis, phillip.kantharidis{at}bakeridi.edu.au.


OBJECTIVE Increased deposition of extracellular matrix (ECM) within the kidney is driven by profibrotic mediators including transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF). We investigated whether some of their effects may be mediated through changes in expression of certain microRNAs (miRNAs).

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Proximal tubular cells, primary rat mesangial cells, and human podocytes were analyzed for changes in the expression of key genes, ECM proteins, and miRNA after exposure to TGF-β (1–10 ng/μl). Tubular cells were also infected with CTGF-adenovirus. Kidneys from diabetic apoE mice were also analyzed for changes in gene expression and miRNA levels.

RESULTS TGF-β treatment was associated with morphologic and phenotypic changes typical of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) including increased fibrogenesis in all renal cell types and decreased E-cadherin expression in tubular cells. TGF-β treatment also modulated the expression of certain miRNAs, including decreased expression of miR-192/215 in tubular cells, mesangial cells, which are also decreased in diabetic kidney. Ectopic expression of miR-192/215 increased E-cadherin levels via repressed translation of ZEB2 mRNA, in the presence and absence of TGF-β, as demonstrated by a ZEB2 3′-untranslated region luciferase reporter assay. However, ectopic expression of miR-192/215 did not affect the expression of matrix proteins or their induction by TGF-β. In contrast, CTGF increased miR-192/215 levels, causing a decrease in ZEB2, and consequently increased E-cadherin mRNA.

CONCLUSIONS These data demonstrate the linking role of miRNA-192/215 and ZEB2 in TGF-β/CTGF–mediated changes in E-cadherin expression. These changes appear to occur independently of augmentation of matrix protein synthesis, suggesting that a multistep EMT program is not necessary for fibrogenesis to occur.


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  • Received December 2, 2009.
  • Accepted March 26, 2010.

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  1. Diabetes vol. 59 no. 7 1794-1802
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