miR-322 stabilizes MEK1 expression to inhibit RAF/MEK/ERK pathway activation in cartilage

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


  • Björn Bluhm
  • Harald W A Ehlen
  • Tatjana Holzer
  • Veronika S Georgieva
  • Juliane Heilig
  • Lena Pitzler
  • Julia Etich
  • Toman Bortecen
  • Christian Frie
  • Kristina Probst
  • Anja Niehoff
  • Daniele Belluoccio
  • Jocelyn Van den Bergen
  • Bent Brachvogel

Research units


Cartilage originates from mesenchymal cell condensations that differentiate into chondrocytes of transient growth plate cartilage or permanent cartilage of the articular joint surface and trachea. MicroRNAs fine-tune the activation of entire signaling networks and thereby modulate complex cellular responses, but so far only limited data are available on miRNAs that regulate cartilage development. Here, we characterize a miRNA that promotes the biosynthesis of a key component in the RAF/MEK/ERK pathway in cartilage. Specifically, by transcriptome profiling we identified miR-322 to be upregulated during chondrocyte differentiation. Among the various miR-322 target genes in the RAF/MEK/ERK pathway, only Mek1 was identified as a regulated target in chondrocytes. Surprisingly, an increased concentration of miR-322 stabilizes Mek1 mRNA to raise protein levels and dampen ERK1/2 phosphorylation, while cartilage-specific inactivation of miR322 in mice linked the loss of miR-322 to decreased MEK1 levels and to increased RAF/MEK/ERK pathway activation. Such mice died perinatally due to tracheal growth restriction and respiratory failure. Hence, a single miRNA can stimulate the production of an inhibitory component of a central signaling pathway to impair cartilage development.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDevelopment (Cambridge, England)
Issue number19
Pages (from-to)3562-3577
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 01.10.2017

ID: 3123178


View graph of relations