Glial cell-line derived neurotrophic factor and neurturin regulate the expressions of distinct miRNA precursors through the activation of GFRα2

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Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and neurturin (NTN) are structurally related neurotrophic factors that have both been shown to prevent the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in vitro and in vivo. NTN and GDNF are thought to bind with different affinities to the GDNF family receptor alpha-2 (GFRα2), and can activate the same multi-component receptor system consisting of GFRα2, receptor tyrosine kinase Ret (RET) and NCAM. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of short, non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression through translational repression or RNA degradation. miRNAs have diverse functions, including regulating differentiation, proliferation and apoptosis in several organisms. It is currently unknown whether GDNF and NTN regulate the expression of miRNAs through activation of the same multi-component receptor system. Using quantitative real-time PCR, we measured the expression of some miRNA precursors in human BE(2)-C cells that express GFRα2 but not GFRα1. GDNF and NTN differentially regulate the expression of distinct miRNA precursors through the activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2). This study showed that the expression of distinct miRNA precursors is differentially regulated by specific ligands through the activation of GFRα2.

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