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Cancer Cell. 2008 Jun;13(6):496-506. doi: 10.1016/j.ccr.2008.04.018.

Genetic and epigenetic silencing of microRNA-203 enhances ABL1 and BCR-ABL1 oncogene expression.

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Cell Division and Cancer Group, Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas (CNIO), E-28029 Madrid, Spain.


The mammalian genome contains several hundred microRNAs that regulate gene expression through modulation of target mRNAs. Here, we report a fragile chromosomal region lost in specific hematopoietic malignancies. This 7 Mb region encodes about 12% of all genomic microRNAs, including miR-203. This microRNA is additionally hypermethylated in several hematopoietic tumors, including chronic myelogenous leukemias and some acute lymphoblastic leukemias. A putative miR-203 target, ABL1, is specifically activated in these hematopoietic malignancies in some cases as a BCR-ABL1 fusion protein (Philadelphia chromosome). Re-expression of miR-203 reduces ABL1 and BCR-ABL1 fusion protein levels and inhibits tumor cell proliferation in an ABL1-dependent manner. Thus, miR-203 functions as a tumor suppressor, and re-expression of this microRNA might have therapeutic benefits in specific hematopoietic malignancies.

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