Transgenic Expression of miR-222 Disrupts Intestinal Epithelial Regeneration by Targeting Multiple Genes Including Frizzled-7
Defects in intestinal epithelial integrity occur commonly in various pathologies. miR-222 is implicated in many aspects of cellular function and plays an important role in several diseases, but its exact biological function in the intestinal epithelium is underexplored. We generated mice with intestinal epithelial tissue-specific overexpression of miR-222 to investigate the function of miR-222 in intestinal physiology and diseases in vivo. Transgenic expression of miR-222 inhibited mucosal growth and increased susceptibility to apoptosis in the small intestine, thus leading to mucosal atrophy. The miR-222-elevated intestinal epithelium was vulnerable to pathological stress, since local overexpression of miR-222 not only delayed mucosal repair after ischemia/reperfusion-induced injury, but also exacerbated gut barrier dysfunction induced by exposure to cecal ligation and puncture. miR-222 overexpression also decreased expression of the Wnt receptor Frizzled-7 (FZD7), cyclin-dependent kinase 4 and tight junctions in the mucosal tissue. Mechanistically, we identified the Fzd7 messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) as a novel target of miR-222 and found that [miR-222/Fzd7 mRNA] association repressed Fzd7 mRNA translation. These results implicate miR-222 as a negative regulator of normal intestinal epithelial regeneration and protection by downregulating expression of multiple genes including the Fzd7. Our findings also suggest a novel role of increased miR-222 in the pathogenesis of mucosal growth inhibition, delayed healing and barrier dysfunction.
Funding was provided by Merit Review Awards (to JY Wang, DJ Turner and JN Rao) from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; grants from the National Institutes of Health (DK57819, DK61972 and DK68491 to JY Wang); and the National Institute on Aging-Intramural Research Program (to M Gorospe). JY Wang is a Senior Research Career Scientist, Biomedical Laboratory Research and Development Service, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
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