Identification and Characterization of FGF2-Dependent mRNA: microRNA Networks During Lens Fiber Cell Differentiation

Louise Wolf, Chun S. Gao, Karen Gueta, Qing Xie, Tiphaine Chevallier, Nikhil R. Podduturi, Jian Sun, Ivan Conte, Peggy S. Zelenka, Ruth Ashery-Padan, Jiri Zavadil, Ales Cvekl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) and fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signaling regulate a wide range of cellular functions, including cell specification, proliferation,migration, differentiation, and survival. In lens, both these systems control lens fiber cell differentiation; however, a possible link between these processes remains to be examined. Herein, the functional requirement for miRNAs in differentiating lens fiber cells was demonstrated via conditional inactivation of Dicer1 in mouse (Mus musculus) lens. To dissect the miRNAdependent pathways during lens differentiation, we used a rat (Rattus norvegicus) lens epithelial explant system, induced by FGF2 to differentiate, followed by mRNA and miRNA expression profiling. Transcriptome and miRNome analysis identified extensive FGF2-regulated cellular responses that were both independent and dependent on miRNAs. We identified 131 FGF2-regulated miRNAs. Seventy-six of these miRNAs had at least two in silico predicted and inversely regulated target mRNAs. Genes modulated by the greatest number of FGF-regulated miRNAs include DNA-binding transcription factors Nfib, Nfat5/OREBP, c-Maf, Ets1, and NMyc. Activated FGF signaling influenced bone morphogenetic factor/transforming growth factor-b, Notch, and Wnt signaling cascades implicated earlier in lens differentiation. Specific miRNA:mRNA interaction networks were predicted for c-Maf, N-Myc, and Nfib (DNA-binding transcription factors); Cnot6, Cpsf6, Dicer1, and Tnrc6b (RNA to miRNA processing); and Ash1l, Med1/PBP, and Kdm5b/Jarid1b/Plu1 (chromatin remodeling). Three miRNAs, including miR-143, miR-155, and miR-301a, down-regulated expression of c-Maf in the 39-UTR luciferase reporter assays. These present studies demonstrate for the first time global impact of activated FGF signaling in lens cell culture system and predicted novel gene regulatory networks connected by multiple miRNAs that regulate lens differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2239-2255
Number of pages17
JournalG3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Dicer1
  • Differentiation
  • FGF2
  • Lens
  • Signaling
  • c-Maf
  • microRNAs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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