MicroRNAs (miRNAs), including miR-1, miR-133, and miR-206, play a crucial role in muscle development by regulating muscle cell proliferation and differentiation. The aim of the present study was to define the effect of miR-124 on myogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). The expression level of miR-124 in skeletal muscles was much lower than those in primary cultured bone marrow-derived MSCs and the bone, fat and brain tissues obtained from C57BL/6 mice. Myogenic stimuli significantly decreased the expression levels of miR-124 in mouse bone marrow-derived MSCs and C2C12 cells. Forced expression of miR-124 suppressed the expression of myogenic marker genes such as Myf5, Myod1, myogenin and myosin heavy chain and multinucleated myotube formation. Blockade of endogenous miR-124 with a hairpin inhibitor enhanced myogenic marker gene expression and myotube formation. During myogenic differentiation of MSCs and C2C12 cells, the levels of Dlx5, a known target of miR-124, were inversely regulated with those of miR-124. Furthermore, overexpression of Dlx5 increased myogenic differentiation, whereas knockdown of Dlx5 using siRNA inhibited myogenesis in C2C12 cells. These results suggest that miR-124 is a negative regulator of myogenic differentiation of MSCs and that upregulation of Dlx5 accompanied with downregulation of miR-124 by myogenic stimuli is necessary for the proper progression of myogenic differentiation. J. Cell. Biochem. 115: 1572–1581, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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