Authors: Piccolo P., Ferriero R., Barbato A., Attanasio S., Monti M., Perna C., Borel F., Annunziata P., Carissimo A., De Cegli R., Quagliata L., Terracciano L.M., Housset C., Teckman J.H., Mueller C., Brunetti-Pierri N.
α1-Antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency is a common genetic disease presenting with lung and liver diseases. AAT deficiency results from pathogenic variants in the SERPINA1 gene encoding AAT and the common mutant Z allele of SERPINA1 encodes for Z α1-antitrypsin (ATZ), a protein forming hepatotoxic polymers retained in the endoplasmic reticulum of hepatocytes. PiZ mice express the human ATZ and are a valuable model to investigate the human liver disease of AAT deficiency. In this study, we investigated differential expression of microRNAs (miRNAs) between PiZ and control mice and found that miR-34b/c was up-regulated and its levels correlated with intrahepatic ATZ. Furthermore, in PiZ mouse livers, we found that Forkhead Box O3 (FOXO3) driving microRNA-34b/c (miR‐34b/c) expression was activated and miR-34b/c expression was dependent upon c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) phosphorylation on Ser574. Deletion of miR-34b/c in PiZ mice resulted in early development of liver fibrosis and increased signaling of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), a target of miR-34b/c. Activation of FOXO3 and increased miR-34c were confirmed in livers of humans with AAT deficiency. In addition, JNK-activated FOXO3 and miR-34b/c up-regulation were detected in several mouse models of liver fibrosis. This study reveals a pathway involved in liver fibrosis and potentially implicated in both genetic and acquired causes of hepatic fibrosis.