MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNA molecules that post-transcriptionally regulate the translation of messenger RNAs. Given the crucial role of miRNAs in gene expression, genetic variants within miRNA-related sequences may affect miRNA function and contribute to disease risk. Osteoporosis is characterized by reduced bone mass, and bone mineral density (BMD) is a major diagnostic proxy to assess osteoporosis risk. Here, we aimed to identify miRNAs that are involved in BMD using data from recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) on femoral neck, lumbar spine and forearm BMD. Of 242 miRNA-variants available in the GWAS data, we found rs11614913:C > T in the precursor miR-196a-2 to be significantly associated with femoral neck-BMD (p-value = 9.9 × 10-7, β = −0.038) and lumbar spine-BMD (p-value = 3.2 × 10-11, β = −0.061). Furthermore, our sensitivity analyses using the Rotterdam study data showed a sex-specific association of rs11614913 with BMD only in women. Subsequently, we highlighted a number of miR-196a-2 target genes, expressed in bone and associated with BMD, that may mediate the miRNA function in BMD. Collectively, our results suggest that miR-196a-2 may contribute to variations in BMD level. Further biological investigations will give more insights into the mechanisms by which miR-196a-2 control expression of BMD-related genes.

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Keywords Bone mineral density, Genetic variation, GWAS, MiRNA polymorphism, Osteoporosis
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms18122529, hdl.handle.net/1765/103237
Journal International Journal of Molecular Sciences
Karabegović, I. (Irma), Maas, S. (Silvana), Medina-Gomez, M.C, Zrimšek, M. (Maša), Reppe, S, Gautvik, K.M, … Ghanbari, M. (2017). Genetic polymorphism of miR-196a-2 is associated with bone mineral density (BMD). International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 18(12). doi:10.3390/ijms18122529