MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are evolutionarily conserved non-coding RNAs of ∼22 nucleotides that regulate gene expression at the level of translation and play vital roles in hippocampal neuron development, function and plasticity. Here, we performed a systematic and in-depth analysis of miRNA expression profiles in cultured hippocampal neurons during development and after induction of neuronal activity. MiRNA profiling of primary hippocampal cultures was carried out using locked nucleic-acid-based miRNA arrays. The expression of 264 different miRNAs was tested in young neurons, at various developmental stages (stage 2-4) and in mature fully differentiated neurons (stage 5) following the induction of neuronal activity using chemical stimulation protocols. We identified 210 miRNAs in mature hippocampal neurons; the expression of most neuronal miRNAs is low at early stages of development and steadily increases during neuronal differentiation. We found a specific subset of 14 miRNAs with reduced expression at stage 3 and showed that sustained expression of these miRNAs stimulates axonal outgrowth. Expression profiling following induction of neuronal activity demonstrates that 51 miRNAs, including miR-134, miR-146, miR-181, miR-185, miR-191 and miR-200a show altered patterns of expression after NMDA receptor-dependent plasticity, and 31 miRNAs, including miR-107, miR-134, miR-470 and miR-546 were upregulated by homeostatic plasticity protocols. Our results indicate that specific miRNA expression profiles correlate with changes in neuronal development and neuronal activity. Identification and characterization of miRNA targets may further elucidate translational control mechanisms involved in hippocampal development, differentiation and activity-depended processes.

doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0074907, hdl.handle.net/1765/68552
Department of Neuroscience

van Spronsen, M., van Battum, E., Kuijpers, M., Vangoor, V., Rietman, M. L., Pothof, J., … Hoogenraad, C. (2013). Developmental and Activity-Dependent miRNA Expression Profiling in Primary Hippocampal Neuron Cultures. PLoS ONE, 8(10). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074907