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MiR-33 Contributes to the Regulation of Cholesterol Homeostasis

Science  18 Jun 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5985, pp. 1570-1573
DOI: 10.1126/science.1189862

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miR-33 in Cholesterol Control

With the well-established link between serum cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease and the availability of effective cholesterol-lowering drugs, cholesterol screening has rapidly become a routine part of health care. Yet, much remains to be learned about how cholesterol levels are regulated at the cellular level (see the Perspective by Brown et al.). Now, Najafi-Shoushtari et al. (p. 1566, published online 13 May) and Rayner et al. (p. 1570, published online 13 May) have discovered a new molecular player in cholesterol control—a small noncoding RNA that, intriguingly, is embedded within the genes coding for sterol regulatory element-binding proteins (SREBPs), transcription factors already known to regulate cholesterol levels. This microRNA, called miR-33, represses expression of the adenosine triphosphate–binding cassette transporter A1, a protein that regulates synthesis of high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good” cholesterol) and that helps to remove “bad” cholesterol from the blood. Reducing the levels of miR-33 in mice boosted serum HDL levels, suggesting that manipulation of this regulatory circuit might be therapeutically useful.

Abstract

Cholesterol metabolism is tightly regulated at the cellular level. Here we show that miR-33, an intronic microRNA (miRNA) located within the gene encoding sterol-regulatory element–binding factor–2 (SREBF-2), a transcriptional regulator of cholesterol synthesis, modulates the expression of genes involved in cellular cholesterol transport. In mouse and human cells, miR-33 inhibits the expression of the adenosine triphosphate–binding cassette (ABC) transporter, ABCA1, thereby attenuating cholesterol efflux to apolipoprotein A1. In mouse macrophages, miR-33 also targets ABCG1, reducing cholesterol efflux to nascent high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Lentiviral delivery of miR-33 to mice represses ABCA1 expression in the liver, reducing circulating HDL levels. Conversely, silencing of miR-33 in vivo increases hepatic expression of ABCA1 and plasma HDL levels. Thus, miR-33 appears to regulate both HDL biogenesis in the liver and cellular cholesterol efflux.

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