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Oncogene. 2011 Jun 2;30(22):2587-94. doi: 10.1038/onc.2010.634. Epub 2011 Feb 7.

Myc overexpression brings out unexpected antiapoptotic effects of miR-34a.

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  • 1Division of Cancer Pathobiology, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, PA 19104-4399, USA.


Downregulation of microRNA-34a by Myc is known to be essential for tumorigenesis and improve tumor-cell survival. Conversely, upregulation of miR-34a by p53 is thought to enhance its acetylation and activity and contribute to the pro-apoptotic effects of this tumor suppressor. We sought to determine whether restoration of miR-34a levels in B-lymphoid cells with Myc overexpression would aid therapeutic apoptosis. Unexpectedly, delivery of miR-34a, which doesn't target p53 directly, severely compromised steady-state p53 levels. This effect was preceded and mediated by direct targeting of Myc, which sustained p53 protein levels via the Arf-Hdm2 pathway. As a result, in the presence of Myc, miR-34a inhibited p53-dependent bortezomib-induced apoptosis as efficiently as anti-p53 small interfering RNA. Conversely, inhibition of miR-34a using antisense RNA sensitized lymphoma cells to therapeutic apoptosis. Thus, in tumors with deregulated Myc expression, miR-34a confers drug resistance and could be considered a therapeutic target.

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