Inhibition of microRNA-14 contributes to actinomycin-D-induced apoptosis in the Sf9 insect cell line.
Actinomycin-D (Act-D) and other inhibitors of RNA synthesis induce extensive and rapid apoptosis in the lepidopteran insect cells. Interestingly, a similar effect is not observed in the case of protein synthesis shutdown, implying that certain RNA species may be critically required for cell survival. In order to assess whether depletion of certain anti-apoptotic microRNAs may result in insect cell apoptosis induced by these transcriptional inhibitors, we inhibited two antiapoptotic microRNAs, viz. bantam and miR-14 (microRNA-14), with known functions in insect systems, by transfecting lepidopteran Sf9 cell line (derived from Spodoptera frugiperda) with sequence-specific inhibitory anti-miRs. Our results indicate that miR-14 is indeed required for constitutive cell survival as its inhibition caused considerable apoptosis. Importantly, exogenous supplementation with the mimics of miR-14 precursor molecules could partially inhibit the Act-D-induced Sf9 cell death. Further, our results indicate that miR-14 may function downstream of mitochondrial cytochrome c release in preventing Act-D-induced apoptosis, implying possible inhibitory interactions with caspases as reported previously in other organisms. While the microRNA species are known to regulate cell death in Drosophila, which belongs the insect order Diptera, the present study demonstrates a definitive antiapoptotic role of miR-14 in lepidopteran apoptosis as well. Our study also indicates that additional microRNA species may be regulating lepidopteran cell survival and death, thus warranting further in-depth investigations into these important mechanisms of cell death. Since lepidopteran cells are an excellent model for general stress resistance, this study presents important information about their stress response mechanisms.