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Apoptosis. 2008 Oct;13(10):1215-22. doi: 10.1007/s10495-008-0256-z.

Let-7a microRNA suppresses therapeutics-induced cancer cell death by targeting caspase-3.

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Science Centre, Department of Biochemistry, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong SAR, China.


MicroRNAs (miRNA) are endogenously expressed non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally. Let-7a miRNA is a founding member in the let-7 family and its down-regulation in association with over-expression of RAS and HMGA2 oncogenes has previously been reported. In the present study, caspase-3, the executioner caspase, was confirmed to be the target of let-7a as ectopic expression of let-7a decreased the luciferase activity of a reporter construct containing the 3' untranslated region of caspase-3 and at the same time repressed the enzyme expression in human squamous carcinoma A431 cells and hepatocellular carcinoma HepG2 cells. Moreover, let-7a was over-expressed while caspase-3 was down-regulated in A10A cells, a doxorubicin-resistant A431 subline. Enforced let-7a expression increased the resistance in A431 cells and HepG2 cells to apoptosis induced by therapeutic drugs such as interferon-gamma, doxorubicin and paclitaxel. On the other hand, down-regulation of let-7a by the anti-let-7a inhibitor increased the doxorubicin-induced apoptosis in A431 parent cells, A10A cells and HepG2 cells while the increase was suppressed by caspase-3 inhibitor. Both anti-let-7a inhibitor and caspase-3 inhibitor however failed to affect the drug-induced apoptosis in human breast cancer MCF7 cells, the cells that do not express caspase-3. Therefore, let-7a by targeting caspase-3 may play a functional role in modulating drug-induced cell death in human cancer cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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