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Mol Cell. 2007 Jun 8;26(5):731-43. Epub 2007 May 31.

Transcriptional activation of miR-34a contributes to p53-mediated apoptosis.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Cell Biology, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel.

Abstract

p53 is a potent tumor suppressor, whose biological effects are largely due to its function as a transcriptional regulator. Here we report that, in addition to regulating the expression of hundreds of protein-coding genes, p53 also modulates the levels of microRNAs (miRNAs). Specifically, p53 can induce expression of microRNA-34a (miR-34a) in cultured cells as well as in irradiated mice, by binding to a perfect p53 binding site located within the gene that gives rise to miR-34a. Processing of the primary transcript into mature miR-34a involves the excision of a 30 kb intron. Notably, inactivation of miR-34a strongly attenuates p53-mediated apoptosis in cells exposed to genotoxic stress, whereas overexpression of miR-34a mildly increases apoptosis. Hence, miR-34a is a direct proapoptotic transcriptional target of p53 that can mediate some of p53's biological effects. Perturbation of miR-34a expression, as occurs in some human cancers, may thus contribute to tumorigenesis by attenuating p53-dependent apoptosis.

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