Brain insulin resistance is a key pathological feature contributing to obesity, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's disease (AD). Besides the classic transcriptional mechanism mediated by hormones, posttranscriptional regulation has recently been shown to regulate a number of signaling pathways that could lead to metabolic diseases. Here, we show that microRNA 7 (miR-7), an abundant microRNA in the brain, targets insulin receptor (INSR), insulin receptor substrate 2 (IRS-2), and insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE), key regulators of insulin homeostatic functions in the central nervous system (CNS) and the pathology of AD. In this study, we found that insulin and liver X receptor (LXR) activators promote the expression of the intronic miR-7-1 in vitro and in vivo, along with its host heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein K (HNRNPK) gene, encoding an RNA binding protein (RBP) that is involved in insulin action at the posttranscriptional level. Our data show that miR-7 expression is altered in the brains of diet-induced obese mice. Moreover, we found that the levels of miR-7 are also elevated in brains of AD patients; this inversely correlates with the expression of its target genes IRS-2 and IDE. Furthermore, overexpression of miR-7 increased the levels of extracellular Aβ in neuronal cells and impaired the clearance of extracellular Aβ by microglial cells. Taken together, these results represent a novel branch of insulin action through the HNRNPK-miR-7 axis and highlight the possible implication of these posttranscriptional regulators in a range of diseases underlying metabolic dysregulation in the brain, from diabetes to Alzheimer's disease.
- brain insulin resistance
- posttranscriptional RNA binding proteins
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology