microRNAs identified in highly purified liver-derived mitochondria may play a role in apoptosis

Betsy T. Kren, Phillip Y.P. Wong, Aaron L Sarver, Xiaoxiao Zhang, Yan Zeng, Clifford J Steer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

169 Scopus citations


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small ∼22 nt noncoding (nc) RNAs that regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally by direct binding to target sites on mRNAs. They comprise more than 1,000 novel species in mammalian cells and exert their function by modulating gene expression through several different mechanisms, including translational inhibition, and/or degradation of target mRNAs. Mitochondria maintain and express their own genome, which is distinct from the nuclear transcriptional and translational apparatus. Thus, they provide a potential site for miRNA mediated post-transcriptional regulation. To determine whether they maintain a unique miRNA population, we examined the miRNA profile from highly purified and RNase treated mitochondria from adult rat liver. Fifteen miRNAs were identified by microarray analysis of which, five were confirmed by TaqMan® 5′nuclease assays using rat specific probes. Functional analysis of the miRNAs indicated that they were not targeted to the mitochondrial genome nor were they complementary to nuclear RNAs encoding mitochondrial proteins. Rather, the mitochondria-associated miRNAs appear to be involved in the expression of genes associated with apoptosis, cell proliferation, and differentiation. Given the central role that mitochondria play in apoptosis, the results suggest that they might serve as reservoirs of select miRNAs that may modulate these processes in a coordinate fashion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-72
Number of pages8
JournalRNA Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
M. Lv was partially sponsored by NSFC project (61100023). Authors’ address: N. Guan and W. Yi, Uppsala University, Sweden; email: {nan.guan, yi}@it.uu.se; M. Lv and G. Yu, Northeastern University, China; email: {lvmingsong, yuge}@ise.neu.edu.cn. Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies show this notice on the first page or initial screen of a display along with the full citation. Copyrights for components of this work owned by others than ACM must be honored. Abstracting with credit is permitted. To copy otherwise, to republish, to post on servers, to redistribute to lists, or to use any component of this work in other works requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. Request permissions from permissions@acm.org. ©c 2014 ACM 1539-9087/2014/03-ART123 $15.00 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2584655


  • Apoptosis
  • Cell division
  • Liver
  • Mitochondria
  • miRNA


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