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Cell. 2006 Jun 16;125(6):1111-24.

Relief of microRNA-mediated translational repression in human cells subjected to stress.

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Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, P.O. Box 2543, 4002 Basel, Switzerland.


In metazoans, most microRNAs imperfectly base-pair with the 3' untranslated region (3'UTR) of target mRNAs and prevent protein accumulation by either repressing translation or inducing mRNA degradation. Examples of specific mRNAs undergoing microRNA-mediated repression are numerous, but whether the repression is a reversible process remains largely unknown. Here we show that cationic amino acid transporter 1 (CAT-1) mRNA and reporters bearing its 3'UTR can be relieved from the microRNA miR-122-induced inhibition in human hepatocarcinoma cells subjected to different stress conditions. The derepression of CAT-1 mRNA is accompanied by its release from cytoplasmic processing bodies and its recruitment to polysomes. The derepression requires binding of HuR, an AU-rich-element binding protein, to the 3'UTR of CAT-1 mRNA. We propose that proteins interacting with the 3'UTR will generally act as modifiers altering the potential of miRNAs to repress gene expression.

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