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RNA. 2008 May;14(5):872-7. doi: 10.1261/rna.972008. Epub 2008 Mar 26.

miR-148 targets human DNMT3b protein coding region.

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Division of Tumor Biology, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, 1066 CX Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNA molecules of 20-24 nucleotides that regulate gene expression. In animals, miRNAs form imperfect interactions with sequences in the 3' Untranslated region (3'UTR) of mRNAs, causing translational inhibition and mRNA decay. In contrast, plant miRNAs mostly associate with protein coding regions. Here we show that human miR-148 represses DNA methyltransferase 3b (Dnmt3b) gene expression through a region in its coding sequence. This region is evolutionary conserved and present in the Dnmt3b splice variants Dnmt3b1, Dnmt3b2, and Dnmt3b4, but not in the abundantly expressed Dnmt3b3. Whereas overexpression of miR-148 results in decreased DNMT3b1 expression, short-hairpin RNA-mediated miR-148 repression leads to an increase in DNMT3b1 expression. Interestingly, mutating the putative miR-148 target site in Dnmt3b1 abolishes regulation by miR-148. Moreover, endogenous Dnmt3b3 mRNA, which lacks the putative miR-148 target site, is resistant to miR-148-mediated regulation. Thus, our results demonstrate that the coding sequence of Dnmt3b mediates regulation by the miR-148 family. More generally, we provide evidence that coding regions of human genes can be targeted by miRNAs, and that such a mechanism might play a role in determining the relative abundance of different splice variants.

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