MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are noncoding small RNAs that regulate various pathophysiological cellular processes. Here, we report that expression of the miR-378 family was significantly induced by metabolic inflammatory inducers, a high-fructose diet, and inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor-α. Hepatic miRNA profiling revealed that expression of miR-378a was highly upregulated, which, in turn, targeted the 3'-untranslated region of PPARα mRNA, impaired mitochondrial fatty acid β-oxidation, and induced mitochondrial and endoplasmic reticulum stress. More importantly, the upregulated miR-378a can directly bind to and activate the double-strand RNA (dsRNA)-dependent protein kinase R (PKR) to sustain the metabolic stress. In vivo, genetic depletion of miR-378a prevented PKR activation and ameliorated inflammatory stress and insulin resistance. Counterbalancing the upregulated miR-378a using nanoparticles encapsulated with an anti-miR-378a oligonucleotide restored PPARα activity, inhibited PKR activation and ER stress, and improved insulin sensitivity in fructose-fed mice. Our study delineated a novel mechanism of miR-378a in the pathogenesis of metabolic inflammation and insulin resistance through targeting metabolic signaling at both mRNA (e.g., PPARα) and protein (e.g., PKR) molecules. This novel finding of functional interaction between miRNAs (e.g., miR-378a) and cellular RNA binding proteins (e.g., PKR) is biologically significant because it greatly broadens the potential targets of miRNAs in cellular pathophysiological processes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism