CXCL12 is a chemokine known to be critical for the regulation of the interaction between hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and their niche in the bone marrow, e.g. mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are post-transcriptional regulators recently shown to mediate a variety of cellular processes in the bone marrow niche. However, identification of specific miRNAs and their regulatory role in the crosstalk between HSCs and MSCs are still poorly understood.
From a library of 470 miRNAs, 26 miRNAs were shown to downregulate the levels of CXCL12 in the supernatant of the human MSC line SCP-1. Eight of them (miR-23, 130b, 135, 200b, 200c, 216, 222, 602) were chosen for further investigation according to their significant interaction with the 3'UTR of CXCL12 as determined by luciferase assay. Among them, miR-23a,130 and 222 were expressed in 46 human primary MSCs, whereas the other miRs show negligible expression in resting MSCs.
However, we observed, that MSCs that underwent adipogenic and osteogenic differentiation showed strongly decreased CXCL12 protein values early (day 5) and at later stages (day 14). The later drop in CXCL12 expression was clearly associated with an increased expression of miR-23a and miR-200.
We furthermore tested a subset of stimuli (proinflammatory cytokines, cytotoxic drugs, chemokines) for their ability to modulate the described miRNAs. Amongst them, exclusively the application of transforming growth factor ß1 (TGF-ß1), resulted in the induction of miR-23a and at the same time reduction of CXCL12. The effect was counteracted by transfection of anti-miR-23 molecules.
Taken together, we have shown for the first time that CXCL12-targeting miRNAs (in particular miR23a) have a significant potential to regulate the properties of the stem cell niche. Moreover, miR-23 is implicated in the signalling pathway of TGF-ß1 in human MSCs.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.