American Diabetes Association
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Activation of dsRNA-Dependent Protein Kinase R by MicroRNA-378 Sustains Metabolic Inflammation in Hepatic Insulin Resistance

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posted on 2021-01-07, 18:06 authored by Hao Wang, Yongyan Song, Yuxin Wu, Virender Kumar, Ram I Mahato, Qiaozhu Su
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are noncoding small RNAs that regulate various pathophysiological cellular processes. Here we reported that expression of the miR-378 family was significantly induced by metabolic inflammatory inducers, a high-fructose diet, and inflammatory cytokine TNFa. Hepatic miRNA profiling revealed that expression of miR-378a was highly upregulated which, in turn, targeted the 3’-UTR of PPARa mRNA, impaired mitochondrial fatty acid b-oxidation and induced mitochondrial and ER stress. More importantly, the upregulated miR-378a can directly bind to and activate the dsRNA-dependent protein kinase R (PKR) to sustain the metabolic stress. In vivo, genetic depletion of miR-378a prevented PKR activation, ameliorated inflammatory stress and insulin resistance. Counterbalancing the upregulated miR-378a using nanoparticles encapsulated with an anti-miR-378a oligonucleotide restored PPARa activity, inhibited PKR activation and ER stress, and improved insulin sensitivity in the fructose-fed mice. Conclusion: Our study delineated a novel mechanism of miRNA-378a in the pathogenesis of metabolic inflammation and insulin resistance through targeting metabolic signaling at both mRNA (e.g., PPARa) and protein (e.g., PKR) molecules. This novel finding of functional interaction between miRNAs (e.g., miR-378a) and cellular RNA binding protein(s) (e.g., PKR) is biologically significant as it greatly broadens the potential targets of miRNAs in cellular pathophysiological processes.


This work was supported by a grant from British Heart Foundation (UK) (PG/19/86134788) and a grant from National Institutes of Health (NIH, USA) (P20 GM104320-01A) to Q. Su.


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