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Keywords:

  • fibrosis;
  • liver cancer;
  • transgenic

Abstract

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, regulatory non-coding RNAs that have potent effects on gene expression. Several miRNA are deregulated in cellular processes involved in human liver diseases and regulation of cellular processes. Recent studies have identified the involvement of miR-29 in hepatic fibrosis and carcinogenesis. Although several targets of miR-29 have been identified, there is limited information regarding the cell-type specific roles of miR-29 in the liver, and we sought to evaluate the role of this miRNA in hepatic pathobiology. We report the generation of a tissue–specific knockout mouse to evaluate the role of miR-29 in hepatic fibrosis and carcinogenesis in response to injury. We hypothesized that miR-29 contributes to the hepatocyte driven response to chronic cellular injury that results in fibrosis. In support of this hypothesis, fibrosis and mortality were enhanced in miR29 knockout mice in response to carbon tetrachloride. Genome-wide gene expression analysis identified an over-representation of genes associated with fibrosis. The oncofetal RNA H19 was modulated in a miR-29 dependent manner following exposure to carbon tetrachloride in vivo. The impact of a hepatocyte specific miR-29 knockout on survival following chronic hepatic injury in vivo implicates this miRNA as a potential target for intervention. These results provide evidence of the involvement of miR-29 in chronic hepatic injury, and suggest a role for deregulated hepatocyte expression of miR-29 in the response to hepatic injury, fibrosis and carcinogenesis.