Recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB) is a complex inherited skin disorder caused by loss-of-function mutations in the COL7A1 gene. For an effective treatment of this disorder to be realized, both a thorough understanding of the regulation of COL7A1 and an understanding of the underlying nature of the complications of RDEB are needed. Currently, both posttranscriptional regulation of COL7A1 and the underlying causes of fibrosis in RDEB patients are poorly understood. Here, we describe a mechanism of regulation, to our knowledge previously unknown, by which micro RNA-29 (miR-29) regulates COL7A1 in a complex network: both directly through targeting its 3′ untranslated region at two distinct seed regions and indirectly through targeting an essential transcription factor required for basal COL7A1 expression, SP1. In turn, miR-29 itself is regulated by SP1 activity and transforming growth factor-β signaling. RDEB mice express high levels of transforming growth factor-β and significantly lower miR-29 compared with wild-type cohorts. The sustained decrease in miR-29 in RDEB skin leads to an increase of miR-29 target genes expressed in the skin, including profibrotic extracellular matrix collagens. Collectively, we identify miR-29 as an important factor in both regulating COL7A1 and inhibiting transforming growth factor-β–mediated fibrosis.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Transgenic C57BI/6-TgH ( COL7A1 flNeo/flNeo ) mice were generously provided for this research by Professor Leena Bruckner-Tuderman, MD and her laboratory. This work was supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health ( R01 AR063070 and R01AR059947 ), and U.S. Department of Defense ( W81XWH-12-1-0609 ).