Modulation of MicroRNA Expression During In Vitro Chondrogenesis

Austin Bell-Hensley, Hongjun Zheng, Audrey McAlinden

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Since their discovery in 1993, microRNAs (miRNAs) are now recognized as important epigenetic regulators of many mammalian cellular processes including proliferation, apoptosis, metabolism, and differentiation. These small non-coding RNAs function by interacting with specific regions in the 3′-untranslated region of mRNAs, thereby resulting in mRNA degradation or suppression of translation. Since miRNAs have the ability to target many mRNAs within a given cell type, a number of cellular pathways and networks may be regulated as a result. To study the function of miRNAs, a number of methods can be used to modulate their activity in cells such as synthetic mimics or antagomirs for short-term assays or viral-based approaches for longer-term experiments such as cell differentiation assays. In this chapter, we provide our methodology to constitutively overexpress a desired miRNA during in vitro chondrogenesis of human cartilage progenitor cells (CPCs). Specifically, we describe how we obtain CPCs from human articular cartilage specimens, how we generate and titrate lentivirus engineered to overexpress a precursor miRNA, how we transduce CPCs with lentivirus and differentiate them toward the chondrocyte lineage, and how we extract RNA and measure expression levels of the miRNA of interest during in vitro chondrogenesis. We also provide some data from our laboratory demonstrating that we can achieve and maintain miRNA overexpression for up to 14 days in cartilage pellet cultures. We predict that these lentiviral-based approaches will also be useful to study how miRNA modulation of progenitor cells affects cell differentiation and extracellular matrix production within three-dimensional biomaterial scaffolds.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages19
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745
ISSN (Electronic)1940-6029


  • Cartilage
  • Chondrocyte
  • Chondrogenesis
  • Differentiation
  • Lentivirus
  • MicroRNA
  • Progenitor cell
  • miRNA


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