Date of Award
Master of Science in Biological Sciences (MS)
College, School or Department Name
Department of Biological Sciences
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that inhibit gene expression at transcriptional or post-transcriptional level. Let-7 family is among the first identified human miRNAs and regulates multiple cellular processes including glucose metabolism in multiple organs. It has been reported that overexpression of let-7 resulted in insulin resistance and impaired glucose tolerance through repressing insulin signaling pathway in both muscle and liver. However, the role and mechanism underlying let-7 function in pancreatic beta-cells have yet to be elucidated.
Let-7 family contains nine members, which poses a significant challenge in complete deletion of this miRNA family. To study the function of let-7 and to overcome the functional redundancies of various let-7 members in pancreatic beta-cells, the highly expressed let-7a and let-7b were blocked simultaneously using short tandem target mimic (STTM) approach developed in our laboratory. Introducing STTM-let7 into beta-cells markedly increased the expression of Caspase 3, a direct target of let-7, confirming a sufficient functional knockdown of let-7a/b by STTM-let7. STTM-let7 enhanced apoptotic cell death induced by cytokine, indicating that let-7a/b is able to protect from apoptosis through attenuating Caspase 3 expression in pancreatic beta-cells. In contrast to the previous observation that let-7 silencing increases insulin signaling in muscle and liver, inhibition of let-7 with STTM-let7 significantly repressed glucose-stimulated insulin signaling in pancreatic beta-cells, leading to impaired insulin secretion and reduced beta-cell proliferation. Taken together, an appropriate level of let-7 is essential in maintaining beta-cell function and viability. Dysregulation of let-7 may contribute to the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes.
Zhang, Shungang, "ROLE OF MICRORNA LET-7 IN PANCREATIC BETA CELLS", Master's Thesis, Michigan Technological University, 2014.