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Tiny RNA molecules control labor, may be key to blocking premature birth
Date:11/15/2010

called ZEB1 and ZEB2. In contrast, progesterone directly increases ZEB1 levels. The researchers uncovered a feedback cycle involving all these factors that prevents uterine contraction as long as progesterone is present.

"We found that during pregnancy, progesterone acts on the feedback loop to keep the microRNA levels down and the ZEBs up," said Nora Renthal, Medical Scientist Training Program student and lead author of the study. "The ZEBs, in turn, inhibit contraction-associate genes. But then, just prior to labor, there's a switch. Progesterone action decreases; the ZEBs are suppressed; the miR-200s increase; and the contraction-associated genes are turned on."

The researchers directly tested the contractility of cultured human uterine cells containing low or high levels of ZEB1 or ZEB2. In the presence of oxytocin, uterine cells with low levels of ZEBs contracted, while those with high levels did not, mirroring what happened in the pregnant mice.

While the study shows that the miR-200 family might be a likely therapeutic target to fight premature labor, the microRNAs and their interaction with the ZEB proteins also are known to play a role in cancer, so drug development would have to be approached very carefully, Dr. Mendelson said.


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Contact: Aline McKenzie
aline.mckenzie@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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