MicroRNA-21 promotes wound healing via the Smad7-Smad2/3-Elastin pathway

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Wound healing is regulated by a complex network of cells, molecules, and cytokines, as well as microRNAs (miRNAs). miRNAs were confirmed to influence the wound healing process, and miR-21, an important member of the miRNA family, was also shown to regulate wound healing. The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of miR-21 in the wound healing process and the possible underlying cell signaling pathways. We isolated GMSCs from WT and miR-21-KO mouse gingiva. Flow cytometric analysis and immunocytofluorescense staining were used to identify the GMSCs acquired from WT and miR-21-KO mice. RT-PCR, western blot analysis and immunohistofluorescence staining were performed to examine the expression of extracellular matrix components and key proteins of cell signaling pathways. TargetScan and pmiR-RB-REPORT vectors were used to verify that Smad7 was a direct target of miR-21. Compared to WT mice, miR-21-KO mice showed slower wound healing. RT-PCR and western blot analysis indicated that Elastin expression was downregulated in miR-21-deficient samples. We confirmed that Smad7 was a direct target of miR-21. miR-21 knockout resulted in increased expression of Smad7 and impaired phosphorylation of the Smad2/3 complex. The expression of the Smad7-Smad2/3-Elastin axis in palate tissues sections acquired from WT and miR-21-KO mice showed the same trend. Based on all these results, we demonstrated that miR-21 promoted the wound healing process via the Smad7-Smad2/3-Elastin pathway.

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