MiR-302d inhibits TGFB-induced EMT and promotes MET in primary human RPE cells


Transforming growth factor-beta (TGFB)-mediated epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of retinal fibrosis, which is one of the leading causes of impaired vision. Current approaches to treating retinal fibrosis focus, among other things, on inhibiting the TGFB signaling pathway. Transient expression of microRNAs (miRNAs) is one way to inhibit the TGFB pathway post-transcriptionally. Our previous study identified the miRNA miR-302d as a regulator of multiple TGFB-related genes in ARPE-19 cells. To further explore its effect on primary cells, the effect of miR-302d on TGFB-induced EMT in primary human retinal pigment epithelium (hRPE) was investigated in vitro.


hRPE cells were extracted from patients receiving enucleation. Transfection of hRPE cells with miR-302d was performed before or after TGFB1 stimulation. Live-cell imaging, immunocytochemistry staining, Western blot, and ELISA assays were utilized to identify the alterations of cellular morphology and EMT-related factors expressions in hRPE cells.


hRPE cells underwent EMT by TGFB1 exposure. The transfection of miR-302d inhibited the transition with decreased production of mesenchymal markers and increased epithelial factors. Meanwhile, the phosphorylation of SMAD2 activated by TGFB1 was suppressed. Moreover, miR-302d expression promoted TGFB1-induced fibroblast-like hRPE cells to revert towards an epithelial stage. As confirmed by ELISA, miR-302d reduced TGFB receptor 2 (TGFBR2) and vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) levels 48 hours after transfection.


The protective effect of miR-302d might be a promising approach for ameliorating retinal fibrosis and neovascularization. MiR-302d suppresses TGFB-induced EMT in hRPE cells via downregulation of TGFBR2, even reversing the process. Furthermore, miR-302d reduces the constitutive secretion of VEGFA from hRPE cells.


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