Mice lacking miR-143 and miR-145 had less contractile VSMCs, according to paper in the JCI.

Two miRNAs called miR-143 and miR-145 regulate acquisition and/or maintenance of the contractile nature of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) in mice, according to researchers at the Max-Planck-Institut fuer Herz- und Lungenforschung, Germany

The findings appear in The Journal of Clinical Investigation. The paper is titled “Acquisition of the contractile phenotype by murine arterial smooth muscle cells depends on the Mir143/145 gene cluster.”

The team generated mice lacking both miR-143 and miR-145 and found that they had dramatically reduced numbers of contractile VSMCs and increased numbers of tissue matrix-producing VSMCs in their large arterial blood vessels. Further analysis revealed that these two miRNA molecules were required for normal contractility of arteries in vitro and maintenance of normal blood pressure in vivo.

As their absence led to signs of blood vessel disease in mice, the authors suggest that miR-143/145 might provide new therapeutic targets to enhance blood vessel repair and attenuate blood vessel disease. miR-143 and miR-145 were found to alter the expression of differing sets of genes, meaning that future studies will need to determine precisely how they alter control of blood pressure and disease development.

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