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Analysis of microRNA expression in the thymus of Myasthenia Gravis patients opens new research avenues.
Cron MA1, Maillard S1, Delisle F1, Samson N1, Truffault F1, Foti M2, Fadel E3, Guihaire J3, Berrih-Aknin S1, Le Panse R4.
Autoimmun Rev. 2018 Apr 12. pii: S1568-9972(18)30087-9. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2018.01.008.
In early-onset Myasthenia Gravis (MG) with anti-acetylcholine receptor antibodies, thymic abnormalities associated with ectopic germinal centers are frequent.
miRNAs by acting as post-transcriptional regulators are involved in autoimmunity.
To investigate the implication of miRNAs in thymic changes associated with early-onset MG, we performed a miRnome study and data were analyzed with different approaches.
miRNAs of interest were further investigated by RT-PCR and transfection experiments for functional tests.
First, analyzing specific dysregulated miRNAs, we focused our attention on miR-7-5p and miR-125a-5p, and confirmed by RT-PCR their respective down- and up-regulation in MG thymuses.
miR-7 was the most down-regulated thymic miRNA in MG and we observed an inverse correlation between its expression and CCL21 mRNA expression.
We next showed that miR-7 down-regulation was due to thymic epithelial cells and by transfecting these cells with miR-7, we demonstrated that it controlled CCL21 release.
As CCL21 is essential for germinal center development, we suggested that miR-7 could be involved in thymic changes associated with MG. miR-125a was up-regulated in MG thymuses and is of great interest as it is known to regulate FoxP3 expression, and to modulate the different inflammatory signaling pathways.
Thanks to this thymic miRnome study, we also showed the specific dysregulation of miRNA clusters.
In particular, we observed that miRNAs localized at the extremity of the X chromosome were down-regulated.
This effect seemed linked to their close localization to the fragile X mental retardation 1 gene (FMR1) and the DNA methylation status.
Altogether, this miRnome analysis demonstrated that specific thymic miRNAs can be associated with MG and provides novel insights into the pathogenesis of MG.