Biotin regulates the expression of holocarboxylase synthetase in the miR-539 pathway in HEK-293 cells

Baolong Bao, Rocio Rodriguez-Melendez, Subhashinee S K Wijeratne, Janos Zempleni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Holocarboxylase synthetase (HCS) catalyzes the covalent binding of biotin to carboxylases and histones. In mammals, the expression of HCS depends on biotin, but the mechanism of regulation is unknown. Here we tested the hypothesis that microRNA (miR) plays a role in the regulation of the HCS gene. Human embryonic kidney cells were used as the primary model, but cell lines from other tissues and primary human cells were also tested. In silico searches revealed an evolutionary conserved binding site for miR-539 in the 3′-untranslated region (3′-UTR) of HCS mRNA. Transgenic cells and reporter gene constructs were used to demonstrate that miR-539 decreases the expression of HCS at the level of transcription rather than translation; these findings were corroborated in nontransgenic cells. When miR-539 was overexpressed in transgenic cells, the abundance of both HCS and biotinylated histones decreased. The abundance of miR-539 was tissue dependent: fibroblasts > kidney cells > intestinal cells > lymphoid cells. Dose-response studies revealed that the abundance of miR-539 was significantly higher at physiological concentrations of biotin than both biotindeficient and biotin-supplemented media in all cell lines tested. In kidney cells, the expression of HCS was lower in cells in physiological medium than in deficient and supplemented medium. In contrast, in fibroblasts, lymphoid cells, and intestinal cells, there was no apparent link between miR-539 abundance and HCS expression, suggesting that factors other than miR-539 also contribute to the regulation of HCS expression in some tissues. Collectively, the results of this study suggest that miR-539 is among the factors sensing biotin and regulating HCS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1546-1551
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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