Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a deadly vascular disease with enigmatic molecular origins. While individual microRNAs (miRNAs) can control PH modestly, related miRNAs may conspire to regulate multiple target gene "networks" for a more robust influence on disease. Yet, the network biology of miRNAs has been poorly explored in vivo. We hypothesize that the miR-130/301 family is a pathogenic lynchpin controlling numerous target pathways (beyond pro-proliferative signaling) for broad control over PH. We will define mechanisms connecting the miR-130/301 family to pulmonary vascular dysfunction in vivo - via possible targeting of PPARg and TIMP2 to alter vasomotor tone and vascular stiffness. We will also delineate individual actions of miRNA family members and their coordinated effects in vivo. Thus, the redundant/ synergistic effects thought to be active in miRNA biology will be examined for the first time in PH in vivo.
Specific Aims :
Aim 1) Determine the importance of PPARg and endothelin-1 for control of pulmonary vasomotor tone by miR-130/301. To prove whether miR-130/301 causes vasoconstriction via regulating PPARg and endothelin-1 (ET-1), miR-130/301, PPARg, and ET-1 will be modulated in mice using systems of RNAi and adeno-associated viral (AAV) transgene delivery to the pulmonary vessels, along with intravital pulmonary vascular microscopy and pressure-flow curve analyses to measure vasomotor tone directly.
Aim 2) Determine the importance of PPARg and TIMP2 for control of matrix deposition and pulmonary vascular stiffness by miR-130/301. We postulate that miR-130/301 further controls PH manifestation via repressing both PPARg and TIMP2, thus increasing matrix deposition and vascular stiffness. We will modulate miR-130/301, PPARg, and TIMP2 in mice, followed by biophysical (atomic force microscopy) and molecular assessment of pulmonary vascular stiffness. Results could provide the first evidence in vivo of miRNA-specific regulation of pulmonary vascular stiffness and combinatorial control of PH via multiple related miRNA targets.
Aim 3) Define the coordinated actions of the miR-130/301 family members on overall PH manifestation. We postulate that the miR-130/301 family employs both synergism and redundancy to promote PH. An optimized system of miRNA delivery to the pulmonary vasculature in vivo will be used systematically to interrogate the individual versus integrated contributions of each miR-130/301 family member to PH manifestation in mice. This study will be the first to define the specific network-based parameters of miRNA biology in control of PH in vivo and could be a necessary guide in developing miRNA-based therapies of PH. Significance: Our proposal incorporates a rigorous expertise in miRNA biology with new technological advancements in the molecular, biophysical, and physiological study of PH in vivo. Thus, we aim to establish miR-130/301 as a multi-faceted regulator of PH -- offering new therapeutic targets and perhaps accelerating discovery in other diseases that rely upon complex miRNA networks for control of resultant pathophenotypes.

Public Health Relevance

In this proposal, we aim to establish definitively the critical importance of a related family of ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules, the miR-130/301 family of microRNA, in promoting the development of pulmonary hypertension (PH), a deadly yet enigmatic disease of the blood vessels in the lung. Our approach incorporates a rigorous expertise in studying microRNAs and their complex molecular interactions along with new technological advancements to determine their control over blood vessel wall constriction and stiffness - components thought to be critical to the development of PH but historically challenging to assess in live mammals. In doing so, we aim to firmly establish the miR-130/301 family as a critical and multi-faceted regulator of PH, a possible new therapeutic target for treatment of this disease, and perhaps, a foundation for discovery in other diseases that rely upon similar complex microRNA gene networks for control of disease manifestation.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Research Project (R01)
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Respiratory Integrative Biology and Translational Research Study Section (RIBT)
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Caler, Elisabet V
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Brigham and Women's Hospital
United States
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