miR-27b shapes the presynaptic transcriptome and influences neurotransmission by silencing the polycomb group protein Bmi1

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Abstract

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNAs that are emerging as important post-transcriptional regulators of neuronal and synaptic development. The precise impact of miRNAs on presynaptic function and neurotransmission remains, however, poorly understood. Here, we identify miR-27b—an abundant neuronal miRNA implicated in neurological disorders—as a global regulator of the presynaptic transcriptome. miR-27b influences the expression of three quarters of genes associated with presynaptic function in cortical neurons. Contrary to expectation, a large majority of these genes are up-regulated by miR-27b. This stimulatory effect is mediated by miR-27b-directed silencing of several transcriptional repressors that cooperate to suppress the presynaptic transcriptome. The strongest repressive activity appears to be mediated by Bmi1, a component of the polycomb repressive complex implicated in self-renewal of neural stem cells. miR-27b knockdown leads to reduced synaptogenesis and to a marked decrease in neural network activity, which is fully restored by RNAi-mediated silencing of Bmi1. We conclude that silencing of Bmi1 by miR-27b relieves repression of the presynaptic transcriptome and supports neurotransmission in cortical networks. These results expand the repressive activity of Bmi1 to genes involved in synaptic function and identify a unique post-transcriptional circuitry that stimulates expression of synaptic genes and promotes synapse differentiation.

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Poon, V. Y., Gu, M., Ji, F., VanDongen, A. M., & Fivaz, M. (2016). miR-27b shapes the presynaptic transcriptome and influences neurotransmission by silencing the polycomb group protein Bmi1. BMC Genomics, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12864-016-3139-7

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