miR-183/96/182 cluster is an important morphogenetic factor targeting PAX6 expression in differentiating human retinal organoids

MicroRNAs (miRNAs), a class of small, non-coding RNA molecules represent important regulators of gene expression. Recent reports have implicated their role in the cell specification process acting as “fine-tuners” to ensure the precise gene expression at the specific stage of cell differentiation. Here we used retinal organoids differentiated from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) as a model to closely investigate the role of a sensory organ-specific and evolutionary conserved miR-183/96/182 cluster. Using a miRNA tough decoy approach, we inhibited the miR-183/96/182 cluster in hPSCs. Inhibition of the miRNA cluster resulted in an increased expansion of neuroepithelium leading to abnormal “bulged” neural retina in organoids, associated with upregulation of neural-specific and retinal-specific genes. Importantly, we identified PAX6, a well-known essential gene in neuroectoderm specification, as a target of the miR-183/96/182 cluster members. Taken together, the miR-183/96/182 cluster not only represents an important regulator of PAX6 expression, but it also plays a crucial role in retinal tissue morphogenesis.

2 Apr 2020

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