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Clin Cancer Res. 2006 Apr 1;12(7 Pt 1):2014-24.

Differentially regulated micro-RNAs and actively translated messenger RNA transcripts by tumor suppressor p53 in colon cancer.

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  • 1University of South Alabama-Cancer Research Institute, Mobile, Alabama and Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.



The aim of this study was to investigate the role of p53 in regulating micro-RNA (miRNA) expression due to its function as a transcription factor. In addition, p53 may also affect other cellular mRNA gene expression at the translational level either via its mediated miRNAs or due to its RNA-binding function.


The possible interaction between p53 and miRNAs in regulating gene expression was investigated using human colon cancer HCT-116 (wt-p53) and HCT-116 (null-p53) cell lines. The effect of p53 on the expression of miRNAs was investigated using miRNA expression array and real-time quantitative reverse transcription-PCR analysis.


Our investigation indicated that the expression levels of a number of miRNAs were affected by wt-p53. Down-regulation of wt-p53 via small interfering RNA abolished the effect of wt-p53 in regulating miRNAs in HCT-116 (wt-p53) cells. Global sequence analysis revealed that over 46% of the 326 miRNA putative promoters contain potential p53-binding sites, suggesting that some of these miRNAs were potentially regulated directly by wt-p53. In addition, the expression levels of steady-state total mRNAs and actively translated mRNA transcripts were quantified by high-density microarray gene expression analysis. The results indicated that nearly 200 cellular mRNA transcripts were regulated at the posttranscriptional level, and sequence analysis revealed that some of these mRNAs may be potential targets of miRNAs, including translation initiation factor eIF-5A, eIF-4A, and protein phosphatase 1.


To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report demonstrating that wt-p53 and miRNAs interact in influencing gene expression and providing insights of how p53 regulates genes at multiple levels via unique mechanisms.

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