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MicroRNA-146b regulates hepatic stellate cell activation via targeting of KLF4

Shanfei Ge, Lunli Zhang, Jianping Xie, Fei Liu, Jinni He, Jinwen He, Xiaowei Wang, Tianxing Xiang


Background. We previously identified miR-146b as being up-regulated during the development of hepatic fibrosis using deep sequencing technology and gene expression analysis. However, the roles and related mechanisms of miR-146b in hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), which are involved in fibrogenesis and fibrosis, have not been elucidated. Results. We report that miR-146b expression was increased in TGF-ß1-treated HSCs. TGF- ß1 enhanced α-SMA and COL1A1 protein expression in HSCs and stimulated proliferation of these cells compared with cells transfected with inhibitor NC. Conversely, miR-146b knock-down decreased α-SMA and COL1A1 expression and inhibited HSC proliferation. In addition, we found that miR-146b specifically regulated the translation of Krüppel-like factor 4 (KLF4) by targeting its 3' untranslated region. Forced expression of KLF4 inhibited TGF- ß1-induced enhancement of α-SMA and COL1A1 expression in HSCs, as well as proliferation of these cells. Moreover, miR-146b expression was negatively associated with KLF4 expression but positively associated with expression of α-SMA and COL1A1 during hepatic fibrosis. Conclusions. Our findings demonstrate the participation of miR-146b as a novel upstream effector of HSC activation via direct targeting of KLF4. Thus, targeted transfer of miR-146b into HSCs could be a useful strategy for the treatment of hepatic fibrosis.

Key words. miR-146b, KLF4, Hepatic stellate cell, Fibrosis

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The Official Journal of the Mexican Association of Hepatology, the Latin-American Association for the Study of the Liver and the Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver

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