Micro-RNAs (miRNAs) are short (average 22 nucleotides) noncoding regulatory RNAs that inhibit gene expression by targeting complementary 3′-untranslated regions of protein-encoding mRNAs for translational repression or degradation. miRNAs play key roles in both the function and differentiation of many cell types. Drosha and Dicer, two RNAase III enzymes, function in a stepwise manner to generate a mature miRNA. Previous studies have shown that podocyte-specific deletion of Dicer during development results in proteinuric renal disease and collapsing glomerulopathy (CG); however, Dicer has functions other than the generation of miRNAs. Here we found that the podocyte-specific deletion of Drosha results in a similar phenotype to Dicer mutants, confirming that the Dicer mutant phenotype is due to the loss of miRNAs. Moreover, the inducible deletion of Drosha in 2-to 3-month-old mice (Tet-On system) resulted in CG. Thus, continuous generation of miRNAs are required for the normal function of mature podocytes and their loss leads to CG. Identifying these miRNAs may provide new insight into disease pathogenesis and novel therapeutic targets in various podocytopathies.
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