JOURNAL ARTICLE

MicroRNA-7 inhibition rescues age-associated loss of epidermal growth factor receptor and hyaluronan-dependent differentiation in fibroblasts

Adam C Midgley, Timothy Bowen, Aled O Phillips, Robert Steadman
Aging Cell 2014, 13 (2): 235-44
24134702
Age-related defects in fibroblast differentiation were previously shown to be associated with impaired hyaluronan synthase 2 (HAS2) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) function, with both required for normal fibroblast functionality. In fibroblasts, transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF-β1)-dependent phenotypic activation uses two distinct but co-operating pathways that involve TGF-β receptor (TGF-βR)/Smad2 activation and HA-mediated CD44-EGFR co-localization and signalling through extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2). The HA-mediated CD44-EGFR pathway was found to be compromised with in vitro aging, through loss of EGFR expression and a reduced movement of CD44 throughout the cellular membrane. Here, we also investigate the involvement of microRNAs (miRNAs) in age-related loss of differentiation, through investigation of miRNA-7 (miR-7) regulation of the HA-mediated EGFR-signalling pathway. The transcription of miR-7 was found to be upregulated in aged cells. In young cells, age-related loss of differentiation could be mimicked through transfection of pre-miR-7, and in aged cells, could be reversed through transfection of locked nucleic acids (LNA) targeting miR-7. Additionally, miR-7 was found to be involved in the regulation of CD44 membrane motility, which was downregulated in instances of miR-7 upregulation, and partially restorable through either miR-7 inhibition or HAS2 overexpression. The altered dynamics of CD44 in the cell membrane demonstrated a further action of miR-7 in regulating the HA-dependent CD44/EGFR pathway. We explain this novel mechanism of age-associated functional consequence due to miR-7 upregulation and demonstrate that it is reversible; highlighting miR-7 as a potential target for restoring the healing capabilities in chronic wounds in the elderly.

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