Research Papers:

MicroRNA-34a promotes mitochondrial dysfunction-induced apoptosis in human lens epithelial cells by targeting Notch2

Fan Fan, Jianhui Zhuang, Peng Zhou, Xin Liu and Yi Luo _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:110209-110220. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.22597

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Fan Fan1,2, Jianhui Zhuang3, Peng Zhou4, Xin Liu1,2 and Yi Luo1,2

1Department of Ophthalmology, Eye & ENT Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai, China

2Myopia Key Laboratory of The Health Ministry and Visual Impairment and Reconstruction Key Laboratory of Shanghai, Shanghai, China

3Department of Cardiology, Shanghai Tenth People’s Hospital, Tongji University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China

4Parkway Health Hongqiao Medical Center, Shanghai, China

Correspondence to:

Yi Luo, email: [email protected]

Keywords: miR-34a; HLECs; apoptosis; age-related cataract; Notch

Abbreviations: ARC: age-related cataracts; HLECs: human lens epithelial cells

Received: April 13, 2016     Accepted: July 18, 2017     Published: November 21, 2017


Purpose: Human lens epithelial cell (HLEC) apoptosis is a common pathogenic mechanism in age-related cataracts (ARC). While the function of microRNAs (miRNAs) in the eye is beginning to be explored using miRNA expression array, the role of miR-34a in regulating HLEC apoptosis remains unknown and requires further investigation.

Methods: Quantitative reverse-transcript polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was used to determine the expression level of miR-34a in cataractous and control samples. MiR-34a mimics and small interfering RNAs were transfected into SRA01/04. Cell apoptosis and oxidative stress were assessed by flow cytometry. The Dual-Luciferase Reporter Assay System was used to confirm whether miR-34a bound to the 3’-UTR of the target gene and blocked its activity. The potential roles of the identified target genes in apoptosis and mitochondria dysfunction were also evaluated.

Results: The expression of miR-34a increased in lens epithelial samples of ARC compared with the transparent group (cataract 2.41±0.81 vs. control 1.20±0.44, P=0.005). In cultured SRA01/04, miR-34a increased reactive oxygen species production and induced apoptosis (early apoptosis: 45.55%±5.96% vs. 15.85%±4.93%, P<0.01; late apoptosis: 6.10%±2.67% vs. 0.95%±0.42%, P<0.01). Overexpression of miR-34a promoted mitochondria-mediated apoptosis through activation of caspase-9, disruption of the mitochondrial membrane potential, blocking of mitochondrial energy metabolism and enhancement of cytochrome C release. Furthermore, Notch1 and Notch2 were confirmed as putative targets of miR-34a, but only Notch2 was verified as the effector that triggered mitochondria-mediated apoptosis.

Conclusion: MicroRNA-34a is increased in the cataractous lens and triggers mitochondria-mediated apoptosis and oxidative stress by suppressing Notch2.

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