miR-146a–Mediated Extracellular Matrix Protein Production in Chronic Diabetes Complications

  1. Subrata Chakrabarti1
  1. 1Department of Pathology, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry and the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Department of Medicine, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry and the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
  1. Corresponding author: Subrata Chakrabarti, subrata.chakrabarti{at}schulich.uwo.ca.


OBJECTIVE microRNAs (miRNAs), through transcriptional regulation, modulate several cellular processes. In diabetes, increased extracellular matrix protein fibronectin (FN) production is known to occur through histone acetylator p300. Here, we investigated the role of miR-146a, an FN-targeting miRNA, on FN production in diabetes and its relationship with p300.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS miR-146a expressions were measured in endothelial cells from large vessels and retinal microvessels in various glucose levels. FN messenger RNA expression and protein levels with or without miR-146a mimic or antagomir transfection were examined. A luciferase assay was performed to detect miR-146a’s binding to FN 3′–untranslated region (UTR). Likewise, retinas from type 1 diabetic rats were studied with or without an intravitreal injection of miR-146a mimic. In situ hybridization was used to localize retinal miR-146a. Cardiac and renal tissues were analyzed from type 1 and type 2 diabetic animals.

RESULTS A total of 25 mmol/L glucose decreased miR-146a expression and increased FN expression compared with 5 mmol/L glucose in both cell types. miR-146a mimic transfection prevented such change, whereas miR-146a antagomir transfection in the cells in 5 mmol/L glucose caused FN upregulation. A luciferase assay confirmed miR-146a’s binding to FN 3′-UTR. miR-146a was localized in the retinal endothelial cells and was decreased in diabetes. Intravitreal miR-146a mimic injection restored retinal miR-146a and decreased FN in diabetes. Additional experiments showed that p300 regulates miR-146a. Similar changes were seen in the retinas, kidneys, and hearts in type 1 and type 2 diabetic animals.

CONCLUSIONS These studies showed a novel, glucose-induced molecular mechanism in which miR-146a participates in the transcriptional circuitry regulating extracellular matrix protein production in diabetes.


  • Received April 8, 2011.
  • Accepted July 22, 2011.

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  1. Diabetes vol. 60 no. 11 2975-2984
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