, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 111–121 | Cite as

MiRNA–target interactions in osteogenic signaling pathways involving zinc via the metal regulatory element

  • Michael Francis
  • Arthur GriderEmail author


Adequate zinc nutriture is necessary for normal bone growth and development, though the precise mechanisms for zinc-mediated bone growth remain poorly defined. A key transcription factor activated by zinc is metal response element-binding transcription factor 1 (MTF-1), which binds to the metal regulatory element (MRE). We hypothesize that MREs will be found upstream of miRNA genes as well as miRNA target genes in the following bone growth and development signaling pathways: TGF-β, MAPK, and Wnt. A Bioconductor-based workflow in R was designed to identify interactions between MREs, miRNAs, and target genes. MRE sequences were found upstream from 64 mature miRNAs that interact with 213 genes which have MRE sequences in their own promoter regions. MAPK1 exhibited the most miRNA–target interactions (MTIs) in the TGF-β and MAPK signaling pathways; CCND2 exhibited the most interactions in the Wnt signaling pathway. Hsa-miR-124-3p exhibited the most MTIs in the TGF-β and MAPK signaling pathways; hsa-miR-20b-5p exhibited the most MTIs in the Wnt signaling pathway. MYC and hsa-miR-34a-5p were shared between all three signaling pathways, also forming an MTI unit. JUN exhibited the most protein–protein interactions, followed by MAPK8. These in silico data support the hypothesis that intracellular zinc status plays a role in osteogenesis through the transcriptional regulation of miRNA genes via the zinc/MTF-1/MRE complex.


Metal regulatory element-binding transcription factor 1 MicroRNA Metal regulatory element MIR34A Zinc Osteogenesis 



This research was partially funded by the University of Georgia Experiment Station Hatch Funds (to AG).

Supplementary material

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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Foods and NutritionUniversity of GeorgiaAthens, GAUSA

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