May 9, 2021

The microRNA miR-18a links proliferation and inflammation during photoreceptor regeneration in the injured zebrafish retina

<p>In mammals, photoreceptor loss causes permanent blindness, but in zebrafish (Danio rerio), Muller glia function as intrinsic stem cells, producing progenitor cells that regenerate photoreceptors and restore vision. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) critically regulate neurogenesis in the brain and retina, but the roles of miRNAs in injury-induced neuronal regeneration are largely unknown. The miRNA miR-18a regulates photoreceptor differentiation in the embryonic retina. The purpose of the current study was to determine the function of miR-18a during injury-induced photoreceptor regeneration. RT-qPCR, in-situ hybridization (ISH) and immunohistochemistry (IHC) showed that miR-18a expression increases throughout the retina by 1-day post-injury (dpi) and continues to increase through 5 dpi. Bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) labeling showed that at 7 and 10 dpi, when regenerated photoreceptors are normally differentiating, there are more proliferating Muller glia-derived progenitors in homozygous miR-18a mutant (miR-18ami5012) retinas compared with wild type (WT), indicating that miR-18a negatively regulates injury-induced proliferation. At 7 and 10 dpi, miR-18ami5012 retinas have fewer mature photoreceptors than WT, but there is no difference at 14 dpi, revealing that photoreceptor regeneration is delayed. BrdU labeling showed that the excess progenitors in miR-18ami5012 retinas migrate to other retinal layers besides the photoreceptor layer. Inflammation is critical for photoreceptor regeneration and RT-qPCR showed that, in the absence of miR-18a, inflammation is prolonged. Suppressing inflammation with dexamethasone rescues the miR-18ami5012 phenotype. Together, these data show that during injury-induced photoreceptor regeneration, miR-18a regulates proliferation and photoreceptor regeneration by regulating key aspects of the inflammatory response during photoreceptor regeneration in zebrafish.</p>
<p> bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience</p>
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