Wojtowicz EE, Walasek MA, Broekhuis MJ, Weersing E, Ritsema M, Ausema A, Bystrykh LV, de Haan G
Exp. Hematol. 2014 Oct;42(10):909-918.e1
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are crucial for proper functioning of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs). Members of the miRNA-125 family (consisting of miR-125a, miR-125b1, and miR-125b2) are known to confer a proliferative advantage on cells upon overexpression, to decrease the rate of apoptosis by targeting proapoptotic genes, and to promote differentiation toward the myeloid lineage in mice. However, many distinct biological effects of the three miR-125 species have been reported as well. In the current study, we set out to assess whether the three miRNA-125s that carry identical seed sequences could be functionally different. Our data show that overexpression of each of the three miR-125 family members preserves HSPCs in a primitive state in vitro, results in a competitive advantage upon serial transplantation, and promotes skewing toward the myeloid lineage. All miR-125 family members decreased the pool of phenotypically defined Lin(-)Sca(+)Kit(+)CD48(-)CD150(+) long-term hematopoietic stem cells, simultaneously increasing the self-renewal activity upon secondary transplantation. The downregulation of miR-125s in hematopoietic stem cells abolishes these effects and impairs long-term contribution to blood cell production. The introduction of a point mutation within the miRNA-125 seed sequence abolishes all abovementioned effects and leads to the restoration of normal hematopoiesis. Our results show that all miR-125 family members are similar in function, they likely operate in a seed-sequence-dependent manner, and they induce a highly comparable hematopoietic phenotype.