Tissue-specific control of brain-enriched miR-7 biogenesis

Nila Roy Choudhury, Flavia de Lima Alves, Luisa de Andrés-Aguayo, Thomas Graf, Javier F Cáceres, Juri Rappsilber, Gracjan Michlewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


MicroRNA (miRNA) biogenesis is a highly regulated process in eukaryotic cells. Several mature miRNAs exhibit a tissue-specific pattern of expression without an apparent tissue-specific pattern for their corresponding primary transcripts. This discrepancy is suggestive of post-transcriptional regulation of miRNA abundance. Here, we demonstrate that the brain-enriched expression of miR-7, which is processed from the ubiquitous hnRNP K pre-mRNA transcript, is achieved by inhibition of its biogenesis in nonbrain cells in both human and mouse systems. Using stable isotope labeling by amino acids in cell culture (SILAC) mass spectrometry combined with RNase-assisted RNA pull-down, we identified Musashi homolog 2 (MSI2) and Hu antigen R (HuR) proteins as inhibitors of miR-7 processing in nonneural cells. This is achieved through HuR-mediated binding of MSI2 to the conserved terminal loop of pri-miR-7. Footprinting and electrophoretic gel mobility shift analysis (EMSA) provide further evidence for a direct interaction between pri-miR-7-1 and the HuR/MSI2 complex, resulting in stabilization of the pri-miR-7-1 structure. We also confirmed the physiological relevance of this inhibitory mechanism in a neuronal differentiation system using human SH-SY5Y cells. Finally, we show elevated levels of miR-7 in selected tissues from MSI2 knockout (KO) mice without apparent changes in the abundance of the pri-miR-7 transcript. Altogether, our data provide the first insight into the regulation of brain-enriched miRNA processing by defined tissue-specific factors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-38
Number of pages15
JournalGenes & Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • miRNA biogenesis
  • brain-enriched miRNA
  • RNP complex
  • MSI2
  • HuR


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