MicroRNAs Play Key Role in Regulation of Circadian Rhythms | Biology

Zhou et al. revealed that the miR-183/96/182 cluster has functional impacts on circadian rhythms in mammals; they can modulate circadian systems either by direct targeting of the core clock machinery or through a more indirect mechanism that ultimately feeds into the circadian clock. Image credit: Kelvin Ma / CC BY 3.0.

Previously regarded as ‘junk DNA,’ microRNAs (miRNAs) are small chains of about two dozen non-coding nucleotides. They’re rising as essential regulators of various physiological and pathological processes. Nevertheless, our data of their potential function in regulation of circadian rhythms is proscribed. In new analysis, a crew of U.S. scientists efficiently recognized mature miRNAs as cell-autonomous circadian modulators.

Zhou et al. revealed that the miR-183/96/182 cluster has useful impacts on circadian rhythms in mammals; they’ll modulate circadian techniques both by direct focusing on of the core clock equipment or by way of a extra oblique mechanism that finally feeds into the circadian clock. Picture credit score: Kelvin Ma / CC BY 3.0.

“We’ve seen how the perform of clock genes are actually essential in many alternative illnesses,” mentioned Professor Steve Kay, a researcher within the Keck College of Medication on the College of Southern California, Los Angeles.

“However what we had been blind to was an entire completely different funky type of genes community that is also essential for circadian regulation and that is the entire loopy world of what we name non-coding miRNA.”

The researchers performed the primary cell-based, genome-wide screening method to systematically establish which of 989 miRNAs is perhaps those modulating circadian rhythms

“A lot to our shock, we found about 110 to 120 miRNAs that do that,” Professor Kay mentioned.

The authors then verified the influence on circadian rhythms by inactivating sure miRNAs recognized by the display screen of their line of glowing cells.

Knocking out the miRNAs had the other impact on the cells’ circadian rhythm as including them to the cells.

The scientists additionally targeted on the physiologic and behavioral impacts of miRNAs.

They analyzed the habits of mice with a specific cluster of miRNAs inactivated — miR-183/96/182 — and noticed that inactivating the cluster interfered with their wheel-running habits in the dead of night in contrast with management mice.

They then examined the influence of the miRNA cluster on mind, retina and lung tissue, and located that inactivating the cluster affected circadian rhythms another way in every tissue sort — suggesting that the best way the miRNAs regulate the circadian clock is tissue particular.

Understanding the influence of miRNAs on the circadian clock in particular person tissue may reveal new methods of treating or stopping particular illnesses.

“Within the mind we’re desirous about connecting the clock to illnesses like Alzheimer’s, within the lung we’re desirous about connecting the clock to illnesses like bronchial asthma,” Professor Kay mentioned.

“The subsequent step I feel for us to mannequin illness states in animals and in cells and have a look at how these microRNAs are functioning in these illness states.”

The study was printed within the Proceedings of the Nationwide Academy of Sciences.


Lili Zhou et al. 2021. A genome-wide microRNA display screen identifies the microRNA-183/96/182 cluster as a modulator of circadian rhythms. PNAS 118 (1): e2020454118; doi: 10.1073/pnas.2020454118


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