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MicroRNA-146a-mediated downregulation of IRAK1 protects mouse and human small intestine against ischemia/reperfusion injury

Chassin, C;Hempel, C;Stockinger, S;Dupont, A;Kbler, JF;Wedemeyer, J;Vandewalle, A;Hornef, MW;

Intestinal ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury causes inflammation and tissue damage and is associated with high morbidity and mortality. Uncontrolled activation of the innate immune system through toll-like receptors (Tlr) plays a key role in I/R-mediated tissue damage but the underlying mechanisms have not been fully resolved. Here, we identify post-transcriptional upregulation of the essential Tlr signalling molecule interleukin 1 receptor-associated kinase (Irak) 1 as the causative mechanism for post-ischemic immune hyper-responsiveness of intestinal epithelial cells. Increased Irak1 protein levels enhanced epithelial ligand responsiveness, chemokine secretion, apoptosis and mucosal barrier disruption in an experimental intestinal I/R model using wild-type, Irak1(-/-) and Tlr4(-/-) mice and ischemic human intestinal tissue. Irak1 accumulation under hypoxic conditions was associated with reduced K48 ubiquitination and enhanced Senp1-mediated deSUMOylation of Irak1. Importantly, administration of microRNA (miR)-146a or induction of miR-146a by the phytochemical diindolylmethane controlled Irak1 upregulation and prevented immune hyper-responsiveness in mouse and human tissue. These findings indicate that Irak1 accumulation triggers I/R-induced epithelial immune hyper-responsiveness and suggest that the induction of miR-146a offers a promising strategy to prevent I/R tissue injury.