Hyperproliferation of bile duct epithelial cells due to cell-cycle dysregulation is a key feature of cystogenesis in polycystic liver diseases (PCLDs). Recent evidence suggests a regulatory role for microRNAs (miRNAs) in a variety of biological processes, including cell proliferation. We therefore hypothesized that miRNAs may be involved in the regulation of selected components of the cell cycle and might contribute to hepatic cystogenesis. We found that the cholangiocyte cell line PCK-CCL, which is derived from the PCK rat, a model of autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD), displayed global changes in miRNA expression compared with normal rat cholangiocytes (NRCs). More specific analysis revealed decreased levels of 1 miRNA, miR15a, both in PCK-CCL cells and in liver tissue from PCK rats and patients with a PCLD. The decrease in miR15a expression was associated with upregulation of its target, the cell-cycle regulator cell division cycle 25A (Cdc25A). Overexpression of miR15a in PCK-CCL cells decreased Cdc25A levels, inhibited cell proliferation, and reduced cyst growth. In contrast, suppression of miR15a in NRCs accelerated cell proliferation, increased Cdc25A expression, and promoted cyst growth. Taken together, these results suggest that suppression of miR15a contributes to hepatic cystogenesis through dysregulation of Cdc25A.
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