MicroRNA-124 protects against focal cerebral ischemia via mechanisms involving Usp14-dependent REST degradation.

Acta neuropathologica

PubMedID: 23754622

Doeppner TR, Doehring M, Bretschneider E, Zechariah A, Kaltwasser B, Müller B, Koch JC, Bähr M, Hermann DM, Michel U. MicroRNA-124 protects against focal cerebral ischemia via mechanisms involving Usp14-dependent REST degradation. Acta Neuropathol. 2013;126(2):251-65.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are highly conserved non-coding RNAs modulating gene expression via mRNA binding. Recent work suggests an involvement of miRNAs in cardiovascular diseases including stroke. As such, the brain-abundant miR-124 and its transcriptional repressor RE1-silencing transcription factor (REST) do not only have elementary roles in the developing and the adult brain, but also alter expression upon cerebral ischemia. However, the therapeutic potential of miR-124 against stroke and the mechanisms involved remain elusive. Here, we analyzed the therapeutic potential of ectopic miR-124 against stroke and its underlying mechanisms with regard to the interaction between miR-124 and REST. Our results show that viral vector-mediated miR-124 delivery increased the resistance of cultured oxygen-glucose-deprived cortical neurons in vitro and reduced brain injury as well as functional impairment in mice submitted to middle cerebral artery occlusion. Likewise, miR-124 induced enhanced neurovascular remodeling leading to increased angioneurogenesis 8 weeks post-stroke. While REST abundance increased upon stroke, the increase was prevented by miR-124 despite a so far unknown negative feedback loop between miR-124 and REST. Rather, miR-124 decreased the expression of the deubiquitinating enzyme Usp14, which has two conserved miR-124-binding sites in the 3'UTR of its mRNA, and thereby mediated reduced REST levels. The down-regulation of REST by miR-124 was also mimicked by the Usp14 inhibitor IU-1, suggesting that miR-124 promotes neuronal survival under ischemic conditions via Usp14-dependent REST degradation. Ectopic miR-124 expression, therefore, appears as an attractive and novel tool in stroke treatment, mediating neuroprotection via a hitherto unknown mechanism that involves Usp14-dependent REST degradation.