The polycystic liver and kidney diseases are a family of disorders with heterogeneous etiologies. Proposed mechanisms of disease include ciliary dysfunction, excess cell proliferation, and altered cell-cell or cell-matrix interactions. In this issue of the JCI, Lee and colleagues provide data to support a novel mechanism for cystogenesis involving microRNA (miRNA) (see the related article beginning on page 3714). They demonstrate that levels of the miRNA miR15a are decreased in livers of patients with autosomal recessive and autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD and ADPKD, respectively) and congenital hepatic fibrosis as well as in the PKC rat model of ARPKD. This results in increased expression of the cell-cycle regulator Cdc25A, which is a direct target of miR15a, and increased cellular proliferation and cystogenesis in vitro. These findings suggest that other miRNAs may also participate in the molecular pathogenesis of cystic liver and kidney diseases.
Andrew S. Chu, Joshua R. Friedman