Stem Cell Reviews and Reports

Insights into the regulation of a common variant of HMGA2 associated with human height during embryonic development

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Early genetic studies in the mouse and chicken identified the HMGA oncogene as a candidate that regulates body height. Subsequent genome-wide SNP studies revealed a significant association of rs1042725 genotypes CT and CC in the 3' UTR of HMGA2 with human height. Together, these studies indicated that HMGA2 expression levels during prenatal development might be a critical factor that contributes to the height phenotype. In the present study, we sought to gain insight into the regulation of HMGA2 during human embryonic development and provide evidence that the rs1042725 genotype is unlikely to affect HMGA2 levels in pluripotent human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). This implies that hESCs in the inner cell mass of blastocysts are most likely not involved in determining the human height phenotype associated with this SNP. By applying a computational approach and cell-based reporter assays, we then identified miR-196b as a candidate microRNA that could contribute to SNP-specific expression of HMGA2 during human prenatal development. We briefly discuss this result in the context of other known functions for miR-196b during vertebrate development. © Humana Press 2009.