X-chromosome-linked miR548am-5p is a key regulator of sex disparity in the susceptibility to mitochondria-mediated apoptosis

Sex dimorphism in cell response to stress has previously been investigated by different research groups. This dimorphism could be at least in part accounted for by sex-biased expression of regulatory elements such as microRNAs (miRs). In order to spot previously unknown miR expression differences we took advantage of prior knowledge on specialized databases to identify X chromosome-encoded miRs potentially escaping X chromosome inactivation (XCI). MiR-548am-5p emerged as potentially XCI escaper and was experimentally verified to be significantly up-regulated in human XX primary dermal fibroblasts (DFs) compared to XY ones. Accordingly, miR-548am-5p target mRNAs, e.g. the transcript for Bax, was differently modulated in XX and XY DFs. Functional analyses indicated that XY DFs were more prone to mitochondria-mediated apoptosis than XX ones. Experimentally induced overexpression of miR548am-5p in XY cells by lentivirus vector transduction decreased apoptosis susceptibility, whereas its down-regulation in XX cells enhanced apoptosis susceptibility. These data indicate that this approach could be used to identify previously unreported sex-biased differences in miR expression and that a miR identified with this approach, miR548am-5p, can account for sex-dependent differences observed in the susceptibility to mitochondrial apoptosis of human DFs.
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Matarrese P.; Tieri P.; Anticoli S.; Ascione B.; Conte M.; Franceschi C.; Malorni W.; Salvioli S.; Ruggieri A.
Nature Publishing Group,
Cell death and disease