Upregulation of RelB in the miR-122 knockout mice contributes to increased levels of proinflammatory chemokines/cytokines in the liver and macrophages

Ke Hsun Hsu, Chin Wen Wei, Yi Ru Su, Tung Chou, Yueh Ling Lin, Fu Chen Yang, Ann Ping Tsou, Chia lin Hsu, Ping Hui Tseng, Nien Jung Chen, Kuo Shyang Jeng, Chuen Miin Leu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: MicroRNA-122 (miR-122) is the most abundant miRNA in the liver and it plays an important role in regulating liver metabolism and tumor formation. Previous studies also reveal an anti-inflammatory function of miR-122; however, relatively little is known about the mechanisms by which miR-122 suppresses inflammation. This study aims to search the effect of miR-122 on proinflammatory chemokines/cytokines production in mice. Methods: Quantitative real-time PCR, Western blot analysis, and ELISA were performed to examine gene expression. TargetScan, miRanda, and microT v3.0 were used to search for possible miR-122 target sites in the 3′-untranslated regions (3′-UTR) of candidate genes. Luciferase reporter assay and site-directed mutagenesis were applied to verify miR-122 target sequences. LPS was applied to peritoneal macrophages and mice to evaluate inflammatory response. Results: The expression of proinflammatory chemokines, including Ccl2, Ccl4, Ccl20, Cxcl2, and Cxcl10, and Relb in the livers of miR-122 knockout (KO) mice was increased. We identified Relb as a direct miR-122 target. Overexpressing RelB in the mouse liver increased the expression of Ccl2, Ccl4, Ccl20, Cxcl2, and Cxcl10. Peritoneal macrophages from miR-122 KO mice had a higher level of RelB, and they showed a stronger NF-κB activation and more TNF-α and IL-6 secretion after LPS stimulation. Overexpression of RelB in a macrophage cell line augmented LPS-induced TNF-α and IL-6 production. miR-122 KO mice showed a greatly increased mortality rate and generated a stronger and lasting inflammatory response to LPS. Conclusions: Deletion of miR-122 caused an upregulation of proinflammatory chemokines and RelB in the liver. Increased RelB may contribute to increases in these chemokine in the liver. Intriguingly, deletion of miR-122 also enhanced the sensitivity of macrophages and mice to LPS. Our results reveal that reducing RelB expression is a new mechanism by which miR-122 regulates inflammation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-30
Number of pages9
JournalImmunology Letters
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Chemokines
  • Inflammation
  • Liver
  • Macrophages
  • microRNA-122
  • RelB


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