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miR-222 regulates proliferation of primary mouse hepatocytes in vitro

Higashi, Miki, Yoneda, Mitsuhiro, Nakagawa, Takeya, Ikeda, Masaaki, Ito, Takashi
Biochemical and biophysical research communications 2019 v.511 no.3 pp. 644-649
cell proliferation, gene expression regulation, gene overexpression, genes, hepatectomy, hepatocytes, liver, mice, microRNA, mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase, neoplasms, sequence analysis
It is well known that hepatocytes regenerate after liver injury, although it is difficult to reproduce this phenomenon in vitro. The goal of this research was to determine the factors that stimulate proliferation of primary mouse hepatocytes (PMHs) in vitro. We first tested knockdown (KD) of tumor protein 53 (p53) alone as well as partial hepatectomy (PH, performed 72 h prior to PMHs preparation) alone. However, neither intervention stimulated hepatocyte proliferation during the 72-h observation period in vitro. We then tested the combination of p53 KD with PH and found that these interventions together stimulated cell proliferation in vitro. Under these latter conditions we analyzed gene expression of these cells by mRNA sequencing (RNA-seq) and microRNA sequencing (miRNA-seq). TargetScan analysis, which determines the relationship between microRNAs and gene expression, found a relationship between downregulated mmu-mir-222 (miR-222) and upregulated genes such as mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase 2 (Map3k2). To confirm this relationship, we performed miR-222 KD and overexpression (OE) and observed the expected changes in target gene expression. Furthermore, the finding that miR-222 KD or OE stimulates or suppresses, respectively, hepatocyte proliferation is well explained by the association between miR-222 and its target genes, which stimulate growth. Our results suggest that miR-222 is one of the key factors regulating PMH proliferation in vitro.