Journal of genetics

A microRNA signature associated with chondrogenic lineage commitment.

PMID 22942087


Generating appropriate cartilage for clinical applications to heal skeletal tissue loss is a major health concern. In this regard, cell-based approaches offer a potential therapeutic strategy for cartilage repair, although little is known about the precise mechanism of chondrogenesis. Unrestricted somatic stem cell (USSC) is considered as a suitable candidate because of its potential for differentiating into multiple cell types. Recent studies show that microRNAs (miRNAs) are involved in several biological processes including development and differentiation. To identify the chondro-specific miRNA signature, miRNA patterns of USSCs and differentiated chondrocytes were investigated using microarrays and validation by qPCR. Prior to these analyses, chondrogenic commitment of differentiated USSCs was verified by immunocytochemistry, specific staining and evaluation of some main chondrogenic marker genes. Various in silico explorations (for both putative targets and signalling pathways) and empirical analyses (miRNA transfections followed by qPCR of some chondrogenic indicators) were carried out to support our results. Transient modulation of multiple chondro-miRs (such as mir-630, mir-624 and mir-376) with chondrocyte targets (such as TGFbR, MAP3K, collagens, SMADs and cadherins) as mediators of chondrogenic signalling pathways including cell-cell interactions, TGF-beta, and MAPK signalling suggests a mechanism for genetic induction of chondrogenic differentiation. In conclusion, this research reveals more details about the allocation of USSCs into the chondrocytes through identification of miRNA signature which modulates targets and pathways required for chondrogenic lineage and could provide guidelines for future clinical treatments and anti-miRNA therapies.