The PBX1/miR-141-miR-200a/EGR2/SOCS3 Axis; Integrative Analysis of Interaction Networks to Discover the Possible Mechanism of MiR-141 and MiR-200a-Mediated Th17 Cell Differentiation

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, Institute for Medical Biotechnology, National Institute of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (NIGEB), Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Cell and Molecular Biology and Microbiology, Faculty of Biological Science and Technology, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran

3 Department of Animal Biotechnology, Cell Science Research Center, Royan Institute for Biotechnology, ACECR, Isfahan, Iran

4 Department of Biology, Faculty of Basic Sciences, Shahrekord Branch, Islamic Azad University, Shahrekord, Iran



Background: Overexpression of miR-141 and miR-200a is known to be associated with the differentiation of T helper 17 (Th17) cells, which are key players in the pathophysiology of autoimmune disorders. However, the function and governing mechanism of these two microRNAs (miRNAs) in Th17 cell skewing are poorly defined.
Objectives: The aim of the present study was to identify the common upstream transcription factors and downstream target genes of miR-141 and miR-200a to obtain a better insight into the possible dysregulated molecular regulatory networks driving miR-141/miR-200a-mediated Th17 cell development.
Materials and Methods: A consensus-based prediction strategy was applied for in-silico identification of potential transcription factors and putative gene targets of miR-141 and miR-200a. Thereafter, we analyzed the expression patterns of candidate transcription factors and target genes during human Th17 cell differentiation by quantitative real-time PCR and examined the direct interaction between both miRNAs and their potential target sequences using dual-luciferase reporter assays.
Results: According to our miRNA-based and gene-based interaction network analyses, pre-B cell leukemia homeobox 1 (PBX1) and early growth response 2 (EGR2) were respectively taken into account as the potential upstream transcription factor and downstream target gene of miR-141 and miR-200a. There was a significant overexpression of the PBX1 gene during the Th17 cell induction period. Furthermore, both miRNAs could directly target EGR2 and inhibit its expression. As a downstream gene of EGR2, the suppressor of cytokine signaling 3 (SOCS3) was also downregulated during the differentiation process.
Conclusions: These results indicate that activation of the PBX1/miR-141-miR-200a/EGR2/SOCS3 axis may promote Th17 cell development and, therefore, trigger or exacerbate Th17-mediated autoimmunity.


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