Regulation of miRNA expression during neural cell specification

Lena Smirnova, Anja Gräfe, Andrea Seiler, Stefan Schumacher, Robert Nitsch, F. Gregory Wulczyn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

556 Scopus citations


MicroRNA (miRNA) are a newly recognized class of small, noncoding RNA molecules that participate in the developmental control of gene expression. We have studied the regulation of a set of highly expressed neural miRNA during mouse brain development. Temporal control is a characteristic of miRNA regulation in C. elegans and Drosophila, and is also prominent in the embryonic brain. We observed significant differences in the onset and magnitude of induction for individual miRNAs. Comparing expression in cultures of embryonic neurons and astrocytes we found marked lineage specificity for each of the miRNA in our study. Two of the most highly expressed miRNA in adult brain were preferentially expressed in neurons (mir-124, mir-128). In contrast, mir-23, a miRNA previously implicated in neural specification, was restricted to astrocytes. mir-26 and mir-29 were more strongly expressed in astrocytes than neurons, others were more evenly distributed (mir-9, mir-125). Lineage specificity was further explored using reporter constructs for two miRNA of particular interest (mir-125 and mir-128). miRNA-mediated suppression of both reporters was observed after transfection of the reporters into neurons but not astrocytes. miRNA were strongly induced during neural differentiation of embryonic stem cells, suggesting the validity of the stem cell model for studying miRNA regulation in neural development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1469-1477
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Embryonic stem cells
  • MicroRNA
  • Neural differentiation
  • lin-4

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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