We observed that microRNAs (miRNAs) that regulate differentiation in a variety of simpler systems also regulate differentiation of human multipotent stromal cells (hMSCs) from bone marrow. Differentiation of hMSCs into osteoblasts and adipocytes was inhibited by using lentiviruses expressing shRNAs to decrease expression of Dicer and Drosha, two enzymes that process early transcripts to miRNA. Expression analysis of miRNAs during hMSC differentiation identified 19 miRNAs that were up-regulated during osteogenic differentiation and 20 during adipogenic differentiation, 11 of which were commonly up-regulated in both osteogenic and adipogenic differentiation. In silico models predicted that five of the up-regulated miRNAs targeted leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) expression. The prediction was confirmed for two of the miRNAs, hsa-mir 199a and hsa-mir346, in that over-expression of the miRNAs decreased LIF secretion by hMSCs. The results demonstrate that differentiation of hMSCs is regulated by miRNAs and that several of these miRNAs target LIF
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