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Nucleic Acids Res. 2009 May;37(8):2584-95. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkp117. Epub 2009 Mar 5.

Estradiol downregulates miR-21 expression and increases miR-21 target gene expression in MCF-7 breast cancer cells.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Center for Genetics and Molecular Medicine, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, KY 40292, USA.


Select changes in microRNA (miRNA) expression correlate with estrogen receptor alpha (ER alpha) expression in breast tumors. miR-21 is higher in ER alpha positive than negative tumors, but no one has examined how estradiol (E(2)) regulates miR-21 in breast cancer cells. Here we report that E(2) inhibits miR-21 expression in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. The E(2)-induced reduction in miR-21 was inhibited by 4-hydroxytamoxifen (4-OHT), ICI 182 780 (Faslodex), and siRNA ER alpha indicating that the suppression is ER alpha-mediated. ER alpha and ER beta agonists PPT and DPN inhibited and 4-OHT increased miR-21 expression. E(2) increased luciferase activity from reporters containing the miR-21 recognition elements from the 3'-UTRs of miR-21 target genes, corroborating that E(2) represses miR-21 expression resulting in a loss of target gene suppression. The E(2)-mediated decrease in miR-21 correlated with increased protein expression of endogenous miR-21-targets Pdcd4, PTEN and Bcl-2. siRNA knockdown of ER alpha blocked the E(2)-induced increase in Pdcd4, PTEN and Bcl-2. Transfection of MCF-7 cells with antisense (AS) to miR-21 mimicked the E(2)-induced increase in Pdcd4, PTEN and Bcl-2. These results are the first to demonstrate that E(2) represses the expression of an oncogenic miRNA, miR-21, by activating estrogen receptor in MCF-7 cells.

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