Research Article

MicroRNAs function primarily in the pathogenesis of human anencephaly via the mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathway

Published: February 20, 2014
Genet. Mol. Res. 13 (1) : 1015-1029 DOI: 10.4238/2014.February.20.3

Abstract

Anencephaly is one of the most serious forms of neural tube defects (NTDs), a group of congenital central nervous system (CNS) malformations. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are involved in diverse biological processes via the post-transcriptional regulation of target mRNAs. Although miRNAs play important roles in the development of mammalian CNS, their function in human NTDs remains unknown. Using a miRNA microarray, we identified a unique expression profile in fetal anencephalic brain tissues, characterized by 70 upregulated miRNAs (ratio ≥2) and 7 downregulated miRNAs (ratio ≤0.5) compared with healthy human samples. Ten miRNAs with altered expression were selected from the microarray findings for validation with real-time quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. We found that in anencephalic tissues, miR-22, miR-23a, miR-34a, miR-103, miR-125a, miR-132, miR-134, miR-138, and miR-185 were significantly upregulated, while miR-149 was significantly downregulated. Furthermore, 459 potential target genes within the validated miRNAs were revealed using combined four target prediction algorithms in the human genome, and subsequently analyzed with the Molecule Annotation System 3.0. A total of 119 target genes were ultimately identified, including those involved in 22 singular annotations (i.e., transcription, signal transduction, and cell cycle) and 55 functional pathways [i.e., mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway, and actin cytoskeleton regulation]. Six target genes (HNRPU, JAG1, FMR1, EGR3, RUNX1T1, and NDEL1) were chosen as candidate genes and associated with congenital birth abnormalities of the brain structure. Our results, therefore, suggest that miRNA maladjustment mainly contributes to the etiopathogenesis of anencephaly via the MAPK signaling pathway.

Anencephaly is one of the most serious forms of neural tube defects (NTDs), a group of congenital central nervous system (CNS) malformations. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are involved in diverse biological processes via the post-transcriptional regulation of target mRNAs. Although miRNAs play important roles in the development of mammalian CNS, their function in human NTDs remains unknown. Using a miRNA microarray, we identified a unique expression profile in fetal anencephalic brain tissues, characterized by 70 upregulated miRNAs (ratio ≥2) and 7 downregulated miRNAs (ratio ≤0.5) compared with healthy human samples. Ten miRNAs with altered expression were selected from the microarray findings for validation with real-time quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. We found that in anencephalic tissues, miR-22, miR-23a, miR-34a, miR-103, miR-125a, miR-132, miR-134, miR-138, and miR-185 were significantly upregulated, while miR-149 was significantly downregulated. Furthermore, 459 potential target genes within the validated miRNAs were revealed using combined four target prediction algorithms in the human genome, and subsequently analyzed with the Molecule Annotation System 3.0. A total of 119 target genes were ultimately identified, including those involved in 22 singular annotations (i.e., transcription, signal transduction, and cell cycle) and 55 functional pathways [i.e., mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway, and actin cytoskeleton regulation]. Six target genes (HNRPU, JAG1, FMR1, EGR3, RUNX1T1, and NDEL1) were chosen as candidate genes and associated with congenital birth abnormalities of the brain structure. Our results, therefore, suggest that miRNA maladjustment mainly contributes to the etiopathogenesis of anencephaly via the MAPK signaling pathway.