MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs regulating gene expression by sequence-specific targeting of multiple mRNAs. Although lineage-, maturation- and disease-specific miRNA expression has been described, miRNA-dependent phenotypes and miRNA-regulated signaling in hematopoietic cells are largely unknown. Combining functional genomics, biochemical analysis, unbiased and hypothesis-driven miRNA-target prediction, we show that lentivirally over-expressed miR-125b blocks G-CSF-induced granulocytic differentiation and enables G-CSF-dependent proliferation of murine 32D cells. In primary lineage-negative cells, miR-125b over-expression enhances colony-formation in vitro and promotes myelopoiesis in mouse bone marrow chimeras. We identified Stat3 and confirmed Bak1 as miR-125b target genes with approximately 30% and 50% reduction in protein expression, respectively. However, gene-specific RNAi reveals that this reduction, alone and in combination, is not sufficient to block G-CSF-dependent differentiation. STAT3 protein expression, DNA-binding and transcriptional activity but not induction of tyrosine-phosphorylation and nuclear translocation are reduced upon enforced miR-125b expression, indicating miR-125b-mediated reduction of one or more STAT3 cofactors. Indeed, we identified c-Jun and Jund as potential miR-125b-targets and demonstrated reduced protein expression in 32D/miR-125b cells. Interestingly, gene-specific silencing of JUND but not c-JUN partially mimics the miR-125b over-expression phenotype. These data demonstrate coordinated regulation of several signaling pathways by miR-125b linked to distinct phenotypes in myeloid cells.

  • Submitted June 5, 2010.
  • Accepted February 13, 2011.