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Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2010 Jun;49(6):549-59. doi: 10.1002/gcc.20765.

Overexpression of dicer as a result of reduced let-7 MicroRNA levels contributes to increased cell proliferation of oral cancer cells.

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  • 1Department of Oral Biology, University of Florida, 1600 SW Archer Road, Gainesville, FL 32610-0424, USA.


Recent reports have demonstrated that Dicer, an RNase III endonuclease required for microRNA (miRNA) maturation, is aberrantly expressed in different types of cancer. Furthermore, Dicer has been reported to be regulated by the let-7 family of miRNA genes. We hypothesize that Dicer is aberrantly expressed in oral cancer cells due to altered expressions of let-7 and that Dicer contributes to the development and progression of the disease. Western blot examination of Dicer protein levels in four head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) cell lines, including two oral cancer cell lines, demonstrated that Dicer had between 4- and 24-fold higher expression levels when compared to normal human primary gingival epithelial cells. Furthermore, five of six oral cancer tissues analyzed by indirect immunofluorescence had increased Dicer protein expression, compared to normal gingival epithelial tissue. The Dicer mRNA levels were not found to correlate well with protein expression in the HNSCC cell lines, suggesting that Dicer protein expression was post-transcriptionally regulated. Analysis of let-7a and let-7b levels in HNSCC cell lines by real-time PCR demonstrated that let-7b, but not let-7a, was significantly reduced in the HNSCC cell lines compared to control cells. Lastly, transfection of oral cancer cells with chemically synthesized let-7b and small interfering RNAs targeting Dicer significantly inhibited cell proliferation up to 83% and >100%, respectively, as early as 3 days post-transfection. Together, these data demonstrate that elevated expression levels of Dicer in oral cancer cells correlate with downregulation of let-7b and increased cell proliferation.

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