The aggregation of Aβ42-peptides and the formation of drusen in age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are due in part to the inability of homeostatic phagocytic mechanisms to clear self-aggregating Aβ42-peptides from the extracellular space. The triggering receptor expressed in myeloid/microglial cells-2 (TREM2), a trans-membrane-spanning, sensor-receptor of the immune-globulin/lectin-like gene superfamily is a critical component of Aβ42-peptide clearance. Here we report a significant deficit in TREM2 in AMD retina and in cytokine- or oxidatively-stressed microglial (MG) cells. RT-PCR, miRNA-array, LED-Northern and Western blot studies indicated up-regulation of a microglial-enriched NF-кB-sensitive miRNA-34a coupled to a down-regulation of TREM2 in the same samples. Bioinformatics/transfection-luciferase reporter assays indicated that miRNA-34a targets the 299 nucleotide TREM2-mRNA-3'UTR, resulting in TREM2 down-regulation. C8B4-microglial cells challenged with Aβ42 were able to phagocytose these peptides, while miRNA-34a down-regulated both TREM2 and the ability of microglial-cells to phagocytose. Treatment of TNFα-stressed MG cells with phenyl-butyl nitrone (PBN), caffeic-acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), the NF-kB - [corrected] inhibitor/resveratrol analog CAY10512 or curcumin abrogated these responses. Incubation of anti-miRNA-34a (AM-34a) normalized miRNA-34a abundance and restored TREM2 back to homeostatic levels. These data support five novel observations: (i) that a ROS- and NF-kB - [corrected] sensitive, miRNA-34a-mediated modulation of TREM2 may in part regulate the phagocytic response; (ii) that gene products encoded on two different chromosomes (miRNA-34a at chr1q36.22 and TREM2 at chr6p21.1) orchestrate a phagocytic-Aβ42-peptide clearance-system; (iii) that this NF-kB-mediated-miRNA-34a-TREM2 mechanism is inducible from outside of the cell; (iv) that when operating normally, this pathway can clear Aβ42 peptide monomers from the extracellular medium; and (v) that anti-NF-kB and/or anti-miRNA (AM)-based therapeutic strategies may be useful against deficits in TREM-2 receptor-based-sensing and -phagocytic signaling that promote pathogenic amyloidogenesis.
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