Regulation of microRNA expression in vascular smooth muscle by MRTF-A and actin polymerization

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The dynamic properties of the actin cytoskeleton in smooth muscle cells play an important role in a number of cardiovascular disease states. The state of actin does not only mediate mechanical stability and contractile function but can also regulate gene expression via myocardin related transcription factors (MRTFs). These transcriptional co-activators regulate genes encoding contractile and cytoskeletal proteins in smooth muscle. Regulation of small non-coding microRNAs (miRNAs) by actin polymerization may mediate some of these effects. MiRNAs are short non-coding RNAs that modulate gene expression by post-transcriptional regulation of target messenger RNA.In this study we aimed to determine a profile of miRNAs that were 1) regulated by actin/MRTF-A, 2) associated with the contractile smooth muscle phenotype and 3) enriched in muscle cells. This analysis was performed using cardiovascular disease-focused miRNA arrays in both mouse and human cells. The potential clinical importance of actin polymerization in aortic aneurysm was evaluated using biopsies from mildly dilated human thoracic aorta in patients with stenotic tricuspid or bicuspid aortic valve.By integrating information from multiple qPCR based miRNA arrays we identified a group of five miRNAs (miR-1, miR-22, miR-143, miR-145 and miR-378a) that were sensitive to actin polymerization and MRTF-A overexpression in both mouse and human vascular smooth muscle. With the exception of miR-22, these miRNAs were also relatively enriched in striated and/or smooth muscle containing tissues. Actin polymerization was found to be dramatically reduced in the aorta from patients with mild aortic dilations. This was associated with a decrease in actin/MRTF-regulated miRNAs.In conclusion, the transcriptional co-activator MRTF-A and actin polymerization regulated a subset of miRNAs in vascular smooth muscle. Identification of novel miRNAs regulated by actin/MRTF-A may provide further insight into the mechanisms underlying vascular disease states, such as aortic aneurysm, as well as novel ideas regarding therapeutic strategies. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: ECS Meeting edited by Claus Heizmann, Joachim Krebs and Jacques Haiech.


External organisations
  • University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli
  • University of Valladolid
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cell and Molecular Biology


  • Actin polymerization, MicroRNA, MRTF-A, Phenotype, Smooth muscle, Vascular disease
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1088-1098
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research
Issue number6
Early online date2016 Sep 30
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication categoryResearch

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