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Cancer Res. 2009 Oct 1;69(19):7569-76. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-0529. Epub 2009 Sep 22.

MicroRNA-34a inhibits glioblastoma growth by targeting multiple oncogenes.

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Departments of Microbiology, Neurology and Pathology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.


MicroRNA-34a (miR-34a) is a transcriptional target of p53 that is down-regulated in some cancer cell lines. We studied the expression, targets, and functional effects of miR-34a in brain tumor cells and human gliomas. Transfection of miR-34a down-regulated c-Met in human glioma and medulloblastoma cells and Notch-1, Notch-2, and CDK6 protein expressions in glioma cells. miR-34a expression inhibited c-Met reporter activities in glioma and medulloblastoma cells and Notch-1 and Notch-2 3'-untranslated region reporter activities in glioma cells and stem cells. Analysis of human specimens showed that miR-34a expression is down-regulated in glioblastoma tissues as compared with normal brain and in mutant p53 gliomas as compared with wild-type p53 gliomas. miR-34a levels in human gliomas inversely correlated to c-Met levels measured in the same tumors. Transient transfection of miR-34a into glioma and medulloblastoma cell lines strongly inhibited cell proliferation, cell cycle progression, cell survival, and cell invasion, but transfection of miR-34a into human astrocytes did not affect cell survival and cell cycle status. Forced expression of c-Met or Notch-1/Notch-2 transcripts lacking the 3'-untranslated region sequences partially reversed the effects of miR-34a on cell cycle arrest and cell death in glioma cells and stem cells, respectively. Also, transient expression of miR-34a in glioblastoma cells strongly inhibited in vivo glioma xenograft growth. Together, these findings represent the first comprehensive analysis of the role of miR-34a in gliomas. They show that miR-34a suppresses brain tumor growth by targeting c-Met and Notch. The results also suggest that miR-34a could serve as a potential therapeutic agent for brain tumors.

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