Regulation of T lymphocyte activation by microRNA-21

Lu Wang, Liangqiang He, Rong Zhang, Xiufeng Liu, Yongzhe Ren, Zhipeng Liu, Xiangyu Zhang, Wei Cheng*, Zi Chun Hua

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


MicroRNAs are small noncoding RNAs that act as posttranscriptional regulators of gene expression. To identify microRNAs involved in T cell activation, we performed a microRNA array profiling with Jurkat cells. We found that microRNA-21 (miR-21), which is upregulated in many tumors by targeting a series of tumor suppressor genes to promote tumor growth, was significantly increased in activated Jurkat cells and primary CD4+ T lymphocytes compared with that in quiescent counterparts. By using a signaling network building tool, miR-21 was predicted regulates ERK and JNK signaling in activated Jurkat cells. Indeed, miR-21 promotes ERK and JNK signaling in activated T cells. Sprouty1, a direct target of miR-21 that has been shown an inhibitor of ERK and JNK, was also inhibited by forced miR-21 expression in activated T cells. Reciprocally, miR-21 levels were induced by MEK or JNK signaling response to T cell receptor (TCR) engagement. Furthermore, transfection with miR-21 mimic promotes activator protein 1 (AP-1) activity and interleukin-2 (IL-2) expression. These results provide a missing function of miR-21 in TCR-mediated signaling transduction in T lymphocytes, suggesting that miR-21 may augment T cell immune response by a positive feedback mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-171
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • ERK
  • Interleukin-2
  • JNK
  • MicroRNA
  • T cell activation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology


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