Competing interactions between micro-RNAs determine neural progenitor survival and proliferation after ethanol exposure: evidence from an ex vivo model of the fetal cerebral cortical neuroepithelium. Academic Article uri icon


  • The fetal brain is sensitive to a variety of teratogens, including ethanol. We showed previously that ethanol induced mitosis and stem cell maturation, but not death, in fetal cerebral cortex-derived progenitors. We tested the hypothesis that micro-RNAs (miRNAs) could mediate the teratogenic effects of ethanol in a fetal mouse cerebral cortex-derived neurosphere culture model. Ethanol, at a level attained by alcoholics, significantly suppressed the expression of four miRNAs, miR-21, -335, -9, and -153, whereas a lower ethanol concentration, attainable during social drinking, induced miR-335 expression. A GABA(A) receptor-dependent mechanism mediated miR-21, but not miR-335 suppression, suggesting that divergent mechanisms regulate ethanol-sensitive miRNAs. Antisense-mediated suppression of miR-21 expression resulted in apoptosis, suggesting that miR-21 is an antiapoptotic factor. miR-335 knockdown promoted cell proliferation and prevented death induced by concurrently suppressing miR-21, indicating that miR-335 is a proapoptotic, antimitogenic factor whose actions are antagonistic to miR-21. Computational analyses identified two genes, Jagged-1, a Notch-receptor ligand, and embryonic-lethal abnormal vision, Drosophila-like 2 (ELAVL2), a brain-specific regulator of RNA stability, as presumptive targets of three of four ethanol-sensitive micro-RNAs. Combined knockdown of miR-335, -21, and -153 significantly increased Jagged-1 mRNA. Furthermore, ethanol induced both Jagged-1 and ELAVL2 mRNA. The collective suppression of micro-RNAs is consistent with ethanol induction of cell cycle and neuroepithelial maturation in the absence of apoptosis. These data identify a role for micro-RNAs as epigenetic intermediaries, which permit teratogens to shape complex, divergent developmental processes, and additionally demonstrate that coordinately regulated miRNAs exhibit both functional synergy and antagonism toward each other.

published proceedings

  • J Neurosci

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Sathyan, P., Golden, H. B., & Miranda, R. C.

citation count

  • 233

complete list of authors

  • Sathyan, Pratheesh||Golden, Honey B||Miranda, Rajesh C

publication date

  • August 2007