microRNA-34a regulates neurite outgrowth, spinal morphology, and function.
The p53 family member TAp73 is a transcription factor that plays a key role in many biological processes, including neuronal development. In particular, we have shown that p73 drives the expression of miR-34a, but not miR-34b and c, in mouse cortical neurons. miR-34a in turn modulates the expression of synaptic targets including synaptotagmin-1 and syntaxin-1A. Here we show that this axis is retained in mouse ES cells committed to differentiate toward a neurological phenotype. Moreover, overexpression of miR-34a alters hippocampal spinal morphology, and results in electrophysiological changes consistent with a reduction in spinal function. Therefore, the TAp73/miR-34a axis has functional relevance in primary neurons. These data reinforce a role for miR-34a in neuronal development.