MicroRNAs regulating cholesterol and triglyceride homeostasis identified

MicroRNAs regulating cholesterol and triglyceride homeostasis identified

Four tiny segments of RNA appear to play critical roles in controlling cholesterol and triglyceride metabolism. In a publication in Nature Medicine, researchers describe finding how these microRNAs could reduce the expression of proteins playing key roles in the generation of beneficial HDL cholesterol, the disposal of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol, control of triglyceride levels and other risk factors of cardiovascular disease.

The current study began with analysis of genome-wide association studies involving more than 188,000 individuals, which identified 69 microRNAs located near gene variants previously associated with lipid abnormalities.

sing a tool that predicts the targets of microRNAs based on matches between their nucleotide sequences and those of protein-coding genes and a database of identified gene functions, the researchers arrived on four microRNAs  (miR-128-1, miR-148a, miR-130b, and miR-301b) that appear to control genes involved in cholesterol and triglyceride levels and in other metabolic functions, such as glucose metabolism.

Two of these - miR-128-1 and miR-148a - were found to control the expression of proteins essential to the regulation of cholesterol/lipid levels in cells and in animal models; miR-128-1 was also found to regulate fatty liver deposits, insulin signaling and maintenance of blood sugar levels.