February 2016 – MicroRNAs… MicroRNAs… gut MicroRNAs.

Praveen Sethupathy, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Genetics
UNC-Chapel Hill

Dr. Praveen Sethupathy studies microRNAs and how they respond to gut microbes.

Here is a short recap from his talk:

  • Non-coding RNA encompasses a large class of RNA, including microRNA. The Sethupathy lab in interested in how miRNA regulate diseases, can act as biomarkers of disease, and how they respond to changes in environment. 
  • Sethupathy lab has studied how miRNA is related to Diabetes and Obesity, but recent RNA sequencing data has turned their attention to miRNA in the GI system and their  relationship to Microbiota 
  • Their hypothesis is that miRNA respond to the microbiota, this response is cell-type specific and that miRNA can control Enteroendocrine cells
  • They have mapped miRNA in intestinal epithelial cells and have seen that in GI stem cells, there is increased miR-30d, miR-92, miR-7, miR-375, and let-7, while miRNA-375 is increased in microbiota-sensitive stem cells
    • An ex vivo knockout of miR-375 using LNA 375 led to proliferation of EECs
  • In conclusion, miRNA are specific to cell types in the GI epithelium, miRNA are more sensitive in stem cells than in other GI cells, and a sub-population analysis of miRNA is needed to check response to microbiota. 
You can see more of Dr. Sethupathy’s work at www.med.unc.edu/genetics/sethupathylab.