© 2015 The Authors. Aging Cell published by the Anatomical Society and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Telomeric repeat binding factor 2 (TRF2) is essential for telomere maintenance and has been implicated in DNA damage response and aging. Telomere dysfunction induced by TRF2 inhibition can accelerate cellular senescence in human fibroblasts. While previous work has demonstrated that a variety of factors can regulate TRF2 expression transcriptionally and post-translationally, whether microRNAs (miRNAs) also participate in post-transcriptionally modulating TRF2 levels remains largely unknown. To better understand the regulatory pathways that control TRF2, we carried out a large-scale luciferase reporter screen using a miRNA expression library and identified four miRNAs that could target human TRF2 and significantly reduce the level of endogenous TRF2 proteins. In particular, our data revealed that miR-23a could directly target the 3' untranslated region (3'UTR) of TRF2. Overexpression of miR-23a not only reduced telomere-bound TRF2 and increased telomere dysfunction-induced foci (TIFs), but also accelerated senescence of human fibroblast cells, which could be rescued by ectopically expressed TRF2. Our findings demonstrate that TRF2 is a specific target of miR-23a, and uncover a previously unknown role for miR-23a in telomere regulation and cellular senescence.