Role of Flow-Sensitive microRNAs in Endothelial Dysfunction and Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis preferentially occurs in arterial regions exposed to disturbed flow, in part, due to alterations in gene expression. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, noncoding genes that post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression by targeting messenger RNA transcripts. Emerging evidence indicates that alteration of flow conditions regulate expression of miRNAs in endothelial cells both in vitro and in vivo. These flow-sensitive miRNAs, known as mechano-miRs, regulate endothelial gene expression and can regulate endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis. MiRNAs such as, miR-10a, miR-19a, miR-23b, miR-17–92, miR-21, miR-663, miR-92a, miR-143/145, miR-101, miR-126, miR-712, miR-205, and miR-155, have been identified as mechano-miRs. Many of these miRNAs were initially identified as flow sensitive in vitro and were later found to play a critical role in endothelial function and atherosclerosis in vivo through either gain-of-function or loss-of-function approaches. The key signaling pathways that are targeted by these mechano-miRs include the endothelial cell cycle, inflammation, apoptosis, and nitric oxide signaling. Furthermore, we have recently shown that the miR-712/205 family, which is upregulated by disturbed flow, contributes to endothelial inflammation and vascular hyperpermeability by targeting tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-3, which regulates metalloproteinases and a disintegrin and metalloproteinases. The mechano-miRs that are implicated in atherosclerosis are termed as mechanosensitive athero-miRs and are potential therapeutic targets to prevent or treat atherosclerosis. This review summarizes the current knowledge of mechanosensitive athero-miRs and their role in vascular biology and atherosclerosis.
- Received April 16, 2014.
- Accepted June 30, 2014.
- © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.