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    Abstract: MicroRNAs (miRs) are important post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression implicated in neuronal development, differentiation, aging and neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's disease (PD). Several miRs have been linked to PD-associated genes, apoptosis and stress response pathways, suggesting that deregulation of miRs may contribute to the development of the neurodegenerative phenotype. Here, we investigate the cell-autonomous role of miR processing RNAse Dicer in the functional maintenance of adult dopamine (DA) neurons. We demonstrate a reduction of Dicer in the ventral midbrain and altered miR expression profiles in laser-microdissected DA neurons of aged mice. Using a mouse line expressing tamoxifen-inducible CreERT2 recombinase under control of the DA transporter promoter, we show that a tissue-specific conditional ablation of Dicer in DA neurons of adult mice led to decreased levels of striatal DA and its metabolites without a reduction in neuronal body numbers in hemizygous mice (DicerHET) and to progressive loss of DA neurons with severe locomotor deficits in nullizygous mice (DicerCKO). Moreover, we show that pharmacological stimulation of miR biosynthesis promoted survival of cultured DA neurons and reduced their vulnerability to thapsigargin-induced endoplasmic reticulum stress. Our data demonstrate that Dicer is crucial for maintenance of adult DA neurons, whereas a stimulation of miR production can promote neuronal survival, which may have direct implications for PD treatment.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 28542144
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