MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are crucial for the post-Transcriptional control of protein-encoding genes and together with transcription factors (TFs) regulate gene expression; however, the regulatory activities of miRNAs during cardiac development are only partially understood. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that integrative computational approaches could identify miRNAs that experimentally could be shown to regulate cardiomyogenesis.
Methods and results
We integrated expression profiles with bioinformatics analyses of miRNA and TF regulatory programs to identify candidate miRNAs involved with cardiac development. Expression profiling showed that miR-200c, which is not normally detected in adult heart, is progressively down-regulated both during cardiac development and in vitro differentiation of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) to cardiomyocytes (CMs). We employed computational methodologies to predict target genes of both miR-200c and five key cardiac TFs to identify co-regulated gene networks. The inferred cardiac networks revealed that the cooperative action of miR-200c with these five key TFs, including three (GATA4, SRF and TBX5) targeted by miR-200c, should modulate key processes and pathways necessary for CM development and function. Experimentally, over-expression (OE) of miR-200c in hESC-CMs reduced the mRNA levels of GATA4, SRF and TBX5. Cardiac expression of Ca 2+, K + and Na + ion channel genes (CACNA1C, KCNJ2 and SCN5A) were also significantly altered by knockdown or OE of miR-200c. Luciferase reporter assays validated miR-200c binding sites on the 3′ untranslated region of CACNA1C. In hESC-CMs, elevated miR-200c increased beating frequency, and repressed both Ca 2+ influx, mediated by the L-Type Ca 2+ channel and Ca 2+ transients.
Our analyses demonstrate that miR-200c represses hESC-CM differentiation and maturation. The integrative computation and experimental approaches described here, when applied more broadly, will enhance our understanding of the interplays between miRNAs and TFs in controlling cardiac development and disease processes.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)
- Bioinformatics methods
- Gene regulatory network
- Pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocyte differentiation and maturation
- Transcription factor