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      Sexual dimorphism of miRNA expression: a new perspective in understanding the sex bias of autoimmune diseases

      Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management

      Dove Medical Press

      sex hormones, x chromosome, autoimmune diseases, immune regulation, microrna, sex differences

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          Abstract

          Autoimmune diseases encompass a diverse group of diseases which emanate from a dysregulated immune system that launches a damaging attack on its own tissues. Autoimmune attacks on self tissues can occur in any organ or body system. A notable feature of autoimmune disease is that a majority of these disorders occur predominantly in females. The precise basis of sex bias in autoimmune diseases is complex and potentially involves sex chromosomes, sex hormones, and sex-specific gene regulation in response to internal and external stimuli. Epigenetic regulation of genes, especially by microRNAs (miRNAs), is now attracting significant attention. miRNAs are small, non-protein-coding RNAs that are predicted to regulate a majority of human genes, including those involved in immune regulation. Therefore, it is not surprising that dysregulated miRNAs are evident in many diseases, including autoimmune diseases. Because there are marked sex differences in the incidence of autoimmune diseases, this review focuses on the role of sex factors on miRNA expression in the context of autoimmune diseases, an aspect not addressed thus far. Here, we initially review miRNA biogenesis and miRNA regulation of immunity and autoimmunity. We then summarize the recent findings of sexual dimorphism of miRNA expression in diverse tissues, which imply a critical role of miRNA in sex differentiation and in sex-specific regulation of tissue development and/or function. We also discuss the important contribution of the X chromosome and sex hormones to the sexual dimorphism of miRNA expression. Understanding sexually dimorphic miRNA expression in sex-biased autoimmune diseases not only offers us new insight into the mechanism of sex bias of the disease but will also aid us in developing new sex-based therapeutic strategies for the efficient treatment of these diseases with a sex bias.

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          Most cited references 108

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          Switching from repression to activation: microRNAs can up-regulate translation.

          AU-rich elements (AREs) and microRNA target sites are conserved sequences in messenger RNA (mRNA) 3' untranslated regions (3'UTRs) that control gene expression posttranscriptionally. Upon cell cycle arrest, the ARE in tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha) mRNA is transformed into a translation activation signal, recruiting Argonaute (AGO) and fragile X mental retardation-related protein 1 (FXR1), factors associated with micro-ribonucleoproteins (microRNPs). We show that human microRNA miR369-3 directs association of these proteins with the AREs to activate translation. Furthermore, we document that two well-studied microRNAs-Let-7 and the synthetic microRNA miRcxcr4-likewise induce translation up-regulation of target mRNAs on cell cycle arrest, yet they repress translation in proliferating cells. Thus, activation is a common function of microRNPs on cell cycle arrest. We propose that translation regulation by microRNPs oscillates between repression and activation during the cell cycle.
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            Identification of mammalian microRNA host genes and transcription units.

            To derive a global perspective on the transcription of microRNAs (miRNAs) in mammals, we annotated the genomic position and context of this class of noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) in the human and mouse genomes. Of the 232 known mammalian miRNAs, we found that 161 overlap with 123 defined transcription units (TUs). We identified miRNAs within introns of 90 protein-coding genes with a broad spectrum of molecular functions, and in both introns and exons of 66 mRNA-like noncoding RNAs (mlncRNAs). In addition, novel families of miRNAs based on host gene identity were identified. The transcription patterns of all miRNA host genes were curated from a variety of sources illustrating spatial, temporal, and physiological regulation of miRNA expression. These findings strongly suggest that miRNAs are transcribed in parallel with their host transcripts, and that the two different transcription classes of miRNAs ('exonic' and 'intronic') identified here may require slightly different mechanisms of biogenesis.
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              Physiological and pathological roles for microRNAs in the immune system.

              Mammalian microRNAs (miRNAs) have recently been identified as important regulators of gene expression, and they function by repressing specific target genes at the post-transcriptional level. Now, studies of miRNAs are resolving some unsolved issues in immunology. Recent studies have shown that miRNAs have unique expression profiles in cells of the innate and adaptive immune systems and have pivotal roles in the regulation of both cell development and function. Furthermore, when miRNAs are aberrantly expressed they can contribute to pathological conditions involving the immune system, such as cancer and autoimmunity; they have also been shown to be useful as diagnostic and prognostic indicators of disease type and severity. This Review discusses recent advances in our understanding of both the intended functions of miRNAs in managing immune cell biology and their pathological roles when their expression is dysregulated.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                10.2147/TCRM.S33517
                3949753

                http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

                Medicine

                sex hormones, x chromosome, autoimmune diseases, immune regulation, microrna, sex differences

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