Loss of MicroRNA-7 Regulation Leads to α-Synuclein Accumulation and Dopaminergic Neuronal Loss In Vivo

Kirsty J McMillan, Tracey K Murray, Nora Bengoa-Vergniory, Oscar Cordero-Llana, Jane Cooper, Amy Buckley, Richard Wade-Martins, James B Uney, Michael J O'Neill, Liang F Wong, Maeve A Caldwell

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Abnormal alpha-synuclein (α-synuclein) expression and aggregation is a key characteristic of Parkinson's disease (PD). However, the exact mechanism(s) linking α-synuclein to the other central feature of PD, dopaminergic neuron loss, remains unclear. Therefore, improved cell and in vivo models are needed to investigate the role of α-synuclein in dopaminergic neuron loss. MicroRNA-7 (miR-7) regulates α-synuclein expression by binding to the 3' UTR of the Synuclein Alpha Non A4 Component of Amyloid Precursor (SNCA) gene and inhibiting its translation. We show that miR-7 is decreased in the substantia nigra of patients with PD and, therefore, may play an essential role in the regulation of α-synuclein expression. Furthermore, we have found that lentiviral-mediated expression of miR-7 complementary binding sites to stably induce a loss of miR-7 function results in an increase in α-synuclein expression in vitro and in vivo. We have also shown that depletion of miR-7 using a miR-decoy produces a loss of nigral dopaminergic neurons accompanied by a reduction of striatal dopamine content. These data suggest that miR-7 has an important role in the regulation of α-synuclein and dopamine physiology and may provide a new paradigm to study the pathology of PD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2404-2414
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Therapy
Issue number10
Early online date31 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2017


  • Parkinson’s disease
  • α-synuclein
  • microRNA
  • microRNA-7
  • lentiviral vector


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