Single and compound knock-outs of microRNA (miRNA)-155 and its angiogenic gene target CCN7 in mice alter vascular and neovascular growth in the retina via resident microglia

Lulu Yan, Sangmi Lee, Douglas R. Lazzaro, Jacob Aranda, Maria B. Grant, Brahim Chaqour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations


The response of the retina to ischemic insult typically leads to aberrant retinal neovascularization, a major cause of blindness. The epigenetic regulation of angiogenic gene expression by miRNAs provides new prospects for their therapeutic utility in retinal neovascularization. Here, we focus on miR-155, a microRNA functionally important in inflammation, which is of paramount importance in the pathogenesis of retinal neovascularization. Whereas constitutive miR-155-deficiency in mice results in mild vascular defects, forced expression of miR-155 causes endothelial hyperplasia and increases microglia count and activation. The mouse model of oxygen-induced retinopathy, which recapitulates ischemia-induced aberrant neovessel growth, is characterized by increased expression of miR-155 and localized areas of microglia activation. Interestingly, miR-155 deficiency in mice reduces microglial activation, curtails abnormal vessel growth, and allows for rapid normalization of the retinal vasculature following ischemic insult. miR-155 binds to the 3'-UTR and represses the expression of the CCN1 gene, which encodes an extracellular matrix-associated integrin-binding protein that both promotes physiological angiogenesis and harnesses growth factor-induced abnormal angiogenic responses. Single CCN1 deficiency or double CCN1 and miR-155 knock-out in mice causes retinal vascular malformations typical of faulty maturation, mimicking the vascular alterations of miR-155 gain of function. During development, the miR-155/CCN1 regulatory axis balances the proangiogenic and proinflammatory activities of microglia to allow for their function as guideposts for sprout fusion and anastomosis. Under ischemic conditions, dysregulated miR-155 and CCN1 expression increases the inflammatory load and microglial activation, prompting aberrant angiogenic responses. Thus, miR-155 functions in tandem with CCN1 to modulate inflammation-induced vascular homeostasis and repair.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23264-23281
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number38
StatePublished - Sep 18 2015


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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