The role of microRNAs in neural stem cell-supported endothelial morphogenesis

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Tamara Roitbak Olga Bragina Jamie L Padilla Gavin G Pickett



Functional signaling between neural stem/progenitor cells (NSPCs) and brain endothelial cells (ECs) is essential to the coordination of organized responses during initial embryonic development and also during tissue repair, which occurs following brain injury. In this study, we investigated the molecular mechanisms underlying this functional signaling, using primary mouse brain ECs and NSPCs from embryonic mouse brain. EC/NSPC co-culture experiments have revealed that neural progenitors secrete factors supporting angiogenesis, which induce noticeable changes in endothelial morphology. We demonstrate that NSPCs influence the expression of mTOR and TGF-β signaling pathway components implicated in the regulation of angiogenesis. Endothelial morphogenesis, an essential component of vascular development, is a complex process involving gene activation and the upregulation of specific cell signaling pathways. Recently identified small molecules, called microRNAs (miRNAs), regulate the expression of genes and proteins in many tissues, including brain and vasculature. We found that NSPCs induced considerable changes in the expression of at least 24 miRNAs and 13 genes in ECs. Three NSPC-regulated EC miRNAs were identified as the potential primary mediators of this NSPC/EC interaction. We found that the specific inhibition, or overexpression, of miRNAs miR-155, miR-100, and miR-let-7i subsequently altered the expression of major components of the mTOR, TGF-β and IGF-1R signaling pathways in ECs. Overexpression of these miRNAs in ECs suppressed, while inhibition activated, the in vitro formation of capillary-like structures, a process representative of EC morphogenesis. In addition, we demonstrate that inhibition of FGF, VEGF, and TGF-β receptor signaling abolished NSPC-promoted changes in the endothelial miRNA profiles. Our findings demonstrate that NSPCs induce changes in the miRNA expression of ECs, which are capable of activating angiogenesis by modulating distinct cell signaling pathways.

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ROITBAK, Tamara et al. The role of microRNAs in neural stem cell-supported endothelial morphogenesis. Vascular Cell, [S.l.], v. 3, n. 1, p. 25, nov. 2011. ISSN 2045-824X. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 23 oct. 2021. doi:
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