Scientific reports

Profiles of microRNA networks in intestinal epithelial cells in a mouse model of colitis.

PMID 26647826


Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) accompany a critical loss of the frontline barrier function that is achieved primarily by intestinal epithelial cells (IECs). Although the gene-regulation pathways underlying these host-defense roles of IECs presumably are deranged during IBD pathogenesis, the quantitative and qualitative alterations of posttranscriptional regulators such as microRNAs (miRNAs) within the cells largely remain to be defined. We aimed to uncover the regulatory miRNA-target gene relationships that arise differentially in inflamed small- compared with large-IECs. Whereas IBD significantly increased the expression of only a few miRNA candidates in small-IECs, numerous miRNAs were upregulated in inflamed large-IECs. These marked alterations might explain why the large, as compared with small, intestine is more sensitive to colitis and shows more severe pathology in this experimental model of IBD. Our in-depth assessment of the miRNA-mRNA expression profiles and the resulting networks prompts us to suggest that miRNAs such as miR-1224, miR-3473a, and miR-5128 represent biomarkers that appear in large-IECs upon IBD development and co-operatively repress the expression of key anti-inflammatory factors. The current study provides insight into gene-regulatory networks in IECs through which dynamic rearrangement of the involved miRNAs modulates the gene expression-regulation machinery between maintaining and disrupting gastrointestinal homeostasis.