MicroRNA-302a promotes neointimal formation following carotid artery injury in mice by targeting PHLPP2 thus increasing Akt signaling

Ying-ying Liu1, Xiu Liu1, Jia-guo Zhou1, Si-jia Liang1
1 Department of Pharmacology, and Cardiac & Cerebral Vascular Research Center, Zhongshan School of Medicine, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou 510080, China
Correspondence to: Si-jia Liang:,
DOI: 10.1038/s41401-020-0440-4
Received: 5 January 2020
Accepted: 12 May 2020
Advance online: 21 July 2020


The excessive proliferation and migration of smooth muscle cells (SMCs) play an important role in restenosis following percutaneous coronary interventions. MicroRNAs are able to target various genes and involved in the regulation of diverse cellular processes including cell growth and proliferation. In this study we investigated whether and how MicroRNAs regulated vascular SMC proliferation and vascular remodeling following carotid artery injury in mice. We showed that carotid artery injury-induced neointimal formation was remarkably ameliorated in microRNA (miR)-302 heterozygous mice and SMC-specific miR-302 knockout mice. In contrast, delivery of miR-302a adenovirus to the injured carotid artery enhanced neointimal formation. Upregulation of miR-302a enhanced the proliferation and migration of mouse aorta SMC (MASMC) in vitro by promoting cell cycle transition, whereas miR-302a inhibition caused the opposite results. Moreover, miR-302a promoted Akt activation by corporately decreasing Akt expression and increasing Akt phosphorylation in MASMCs. Application of the Akt inhibitor GSK690693 (5 μmol/L) counteracted the functions of miR-302a in promoting MASMC proliferation and migration. We further revealed that miR-302a directly targeted at the 3′ untranslated region of PH domain and leucine rich repeat protein phosphatase 2 (PHLPP2) and negatively regulated PHLPP2 expression. Restoration of PHLPP2 abrogated the effects of miR-302a on Akt activation and MASMC motility. Furthermore, knockdown of PHLPP2 largely abolished the inhibition of neointimal formation that was observed in miR-302 heterozygous mice. Our data demonstrate that miR-302a exacerbates SMC proliferation and restenosis through increasing Akt signaling by targeting PHLPP2.
Keywords: microRNA-302a; neointimal formation; vascular smooth muscle cell; proliferation; Akt; PHLPP2

Article Options

Download Citation

Cited times in Scopus