Int J Biol Sci 2020; 16(9):1481-1494. doi:10.7150/ijbs.41641 This issue

Research Paper

Inflammation-dependent downregulation of miR-532-3p mediates apoptotic signaling in human sarcopenia through targeting BAK1

Fa-Xiu Chen1,2, Yi Shen1, Yang Liu1, Hai-Feng Wang1, Chen-Yu Liang1, Ming Luo1✉

1. Department of Geriatrics, Tongji Hospital, Tongji University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200065, China.
2. Department of Geriatrics, Jiangxi Provincial People's Hospital Affiliated to Nanchang University, Nanchang 330006, Jiangxi, China.

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Chen FX, Shen Y, Liu Y, Wang HF, Liang CY, Luo M. Inflammation-dependent downregulation of miR-532-3p mediates apoptotic signaling in human sarcopenia through targeting BAK1. Int J Biol Sci 2020; 16(9):1481-1494. doi:10.7150/ijbs.41641. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Inflammation and apoptosis are considered as two major pathological causes of human sarcopenia. The current understanding based on different models recognizes that apoptosis does not trigger inflammation, while emerging evidence indicates that inflammation can induce apoptosis. Here, we provide solid evidence to suggest that the inflammation-dependent downregulation of miR-532 causes apoptosis through targeting a proapoptotic gene BAK1 (BCL2 antagonist/killer 1). To identify miRNAs and genes that are aberrantly expressed in the muscle tissues of sarcopenia patients, we conducted two independent microarray analyses. In total, we identified 53 miRNAs and 69 genes with differential expression levels. Of these aberrantly expressed miRNAs, miR-532-3p showed the most obvious changes in sarcopenia tissues, and more importantly, it can be repressed by the well-known inflammatory inducer lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in vitro. According to gene-based microarray results and the predicted targets of miR-532-3p, we presumed that BAK1 was a putative target of miR-532-3p. Further in vitro and in vivo analyses verified that miR-532-3p could directly bind to the three prime untranslated region (3'-UTR) of BAK1 through the seed sequence CUCCCAC. In addition, we found that NFKB1 (also known as p50), a subunit of the transcription factor NF-κB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells), could specifically bind to the promoter region of miR-532-3p and repress its expression. Further analysis revealed that the activation of TLR4 (Toll-like receptor 4) signaling led to the translocation of p50 from the cytoplasm to the nucleus, where it repressed miR-532-3p expression and thus led to an increase of BAK1. The accumulated BAK1 activated its downstream apoptotic signaling pathways and resulted in apoptosis, eventually causing the pathogenesis underlying sarcopenia. Overall, our results uncovered a new mechanism by which the inflammation-dependent downregulation of miR-532-3p contributed to the pathogenesis of sarcopenia through mediating BAK1 expression.

Keywords: sarcopenia, microRNA, miR-532-3p, BAK1, NFKB1, TLR4