Systems analysis of miR-199a/b-5p and multiple miR-199a/b-5p targets during chondrogenesis

  1. Campus for Ageing and Vitality, Biosciences Institute, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon-Tyne, NE4 5PL, UK
  2. Regenerative Medicine, Stem Cells, Transplantation, Biosciences Institute, Newcastle University, Newcastle, upon, UK Tyne, NE1 4EP
  3. School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK


  • Reviewing Editor
    Marisa Nicolás
    Laboratório Nacional de Computação Científica, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Senior Editor
    Aleksandra Walczak
    École Normale Supérieure - PSL, Paris, France

Reviewer #1 (Public Review):

In 'Systems analysis of miR-199a/b-5p and multiple miR-199a/b-5p targets during chondrogenesis', Patel et al. present a variety of analyses using different methodologies to investigate the importance of two miRNAs in regulating gene expression in a cellular model of cartilage development. They first re-analysed existing data to identify these miRNAs as one of the most dynamic across a chondrogenesis development time course. Next, they manipulated the expression of these miRNAs and showed that this affected the expression of various marker genes as expected. An RNA-seq experiment on these manipulations identified putative mRNA targets of the miRNAs which were also supported by bioinformatics predictions. These top hits were validated experimentally and, finally, a kinetic model was developed to demonstrate the relationship between the miRNAs and mRNAs studied throughout the paper.

I am convinced that the novel relationships reported here between miR-199a/b-5p and target genes FZD6, ITGA3, and CAV1 are likely to be genuine. It is important for researchers working on this system and related diseases to know all the miRNA/mRNA relationships but, as the authors have already published work studying the most dynamic miRNA (miR-140-5p) in this biological system I was not convinced that this study of the second miRNA in their list provided a conceptual advance on their previous work.

I was also concerned with the lack of reporting of details of the manipulation experiments. The authors state that they have over-expressed miR-199a-5p (Figure 2A) and knocked down miR-199b-5p (Figure 2B) but they should have reported their proof that these experiments had worked as predicted, e.g. showing the qRT-PCR change in miRNA expression. Similarly, I was concerned that one miRNA was over-expressed while the other was knocked down - why did the authors not attempt to manipulate both miRNAs in both directions? Were they unable to achieve a significant change in miRNA expression or did these experiments not confirm the results reported in the manuscript?

I had a number of issues with the way in which some of the data was presented. Table 1 only reported whether a specific pathway was significant or not for a given differential expression analysis but this concealed the extent of this enrichment or the level of statistical significance reported. Could it be redrawn to more similarly match the format of Figure 3A? The various shades of grey in Figure 2 and Figure 4 made it impossible to discriminate between treatments and therefore identify whether these data supported the conclusions made in the text. It also appeared that the same results were reported in Figure 3B and 3C and, indeed, Figure 3B was not referred to in the main text. Perhaps this figure could be made more concise by removing one of these two sets of panels.

Overall, while I think that this is an interesting and valuable paper, I think its findings are relatively limited to those interested in the role of miRNAs in this specific biomedical context.

Reviewer #2 (Public Review):


This study represents an ambitious endeavor to comprehensively analyze the role of miR-199a/b-5p and its networks in cartilage formation. By conducting experiments that go beyond in vitro MSC differentiation models, more robust conclusions can be achieved.


This research investigates the role of miR-199a/b-5p during chondrogenesis using bioinformatics and in vitro experimental systems. The significance of miRNAs in chondrogenesis and OA is crucial, warranting further research, and this study contributes novel insights.


While miR-140 and miR-455 are used as controls, these miRNAs have been demonstrated to be more relevant to Cartilage Homeostasis than chondrogenesis itself. Their deficiency has been genetically proven to induce Osteoarthritis in mice. Therefore, the results of this study should be considered in comparison with these existing findings.

  1. Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  2. Wellcome Trust
  3. Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
  4. Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation