miR-204 downregulates EphB2 in aging mouse hippocampal neurons

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/acel.12444

Chand Parvez Danka Mohammed, Hwanseok Rhee, Bong-Kwan Phee, Kunhyung Kim, Hee-Jin Kim, Hyehyeon Lee, Jung Hoon Park, Jung Hee Jung, Jeong Yeon Kim, Hyoung-Chin Kim, Sang Ki Park, Hong Gil Nam, and Keetae Kim

Hippocampal synaptic function and plasticity deteriorate with age, often resulting in learning and memory deficits. As MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are important regulators of neuronal protein expression, we examined whether miRNAs may contribute to this age-associated decline in hippocampal function. We first compared the small RNA transcriptome of hippocampal tissues from young and old mice. Among 269 hippocampal miRNAs, 80 were differentially expressed (≥ twofold) among the age groups. We focused on 36 miRNAs upregulated in the old mice compared with those in the young mice. The potential targets of these 36 miRNAs included 11 critical Eph/Ephrin synaptic signaling components. The expression levels of several genes in the Eph/Ephrin pathway, including EphB2, were significantly downregulated in the aged hippocampus. EphB2 is a known regulator of synaptic plasticity in hippocampal neurons, in part by regulating the surface expression of the NMDA receptor NR1 subunit. We found that EphB2 is a direct target of miR-204 among miRNAs that were upregulated with age. The transfection of primary hippocampal neurons with a miR-204 mimic suppressed both EphB2 mRNA and protein expression and reduced the surface expression of NR1. Transfection of miR-204 also decreased the total expression of NR1. miR-204 induces senescence-like phenotype in fully matured neurons as evidenced by an increase in p16-positive cells. We suggest that aging is accompanied by the upregulation of miR-204 in the hippocampus, which downregulates EphB2 and results in reduced surface and total NR1 expression. This mechanism may contribute to age-associated decline in hippocampal synaptic plasticity and the related cognitive functions.

Keywords: aging; EphB2; hippocampus; miRNA204; NMDA receptor;

Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/acel.12444/full