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PepT1 is a member of the proton-oligopeptide cotransporter family SLC15, which mediates the transport of di/tripeptides from intestinal lumen into epithelial cells. MicroRNAs (miRNAs), a small noncoding RNAs (21–23 nucleotides), posttranscriptionally regulate gene expression by binding to the 39-untranslated regions (UTRs) of their target mRNAs. Although the role of most miRNAs remains elusive, they have been implicated in vital cellular functions such as intestinal epithelial cells differentiation, proliferation, and apoptosis. In the present study, we investigated the effect of intestinal epithelial PepT1 expression on microRNA (miRNA) expression/secretion in the colons of control mice and in mice with experimentally induced colonic inflammation (colitis). The colonic miRNA expression was deregulated in both colitis and control mice but the deregulation of miRNA expression/secretion was specific to colonic tissue and did not affect other tissues such as spleen and liver. Intestinal epithelial PepT1-dependent deregulation of colonic miRNA expression not only affects epithelial cells but also other cell types, such as intestinal macrophages. Importantly, we found the miRNA 23b which was known to be involved in inflammatory bowel disease was secreted and transported between cells to impose a gene-silencing effect on recipient intestinal macrophages. Based on our data, we may conclude that the expression of a specific protein, PepT1, in the intestine affects local miRNA expression/secretion in the colon on a tissue specific manner and may play an important role during the induction and progression of colitis. Colonic miRNA expression/secretion, regulated by intestinal epithelial PepT1, could play a crucial role in cell-to-cell communication during colitis.


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PLoS ONE 9(2): e87614. doi:

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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