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Mol Endocrinol. 2011 Mar;25(3):409-20. doi: 10.1210/me.2010-0402. Epub 2011 Jan 14.

Glucocorticoid-mediated repression of the oncogenic microRNA cluster miR-17~92 contributes to the induction of Bim and initiation of apoptosis.

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Department of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, 10900 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, USA.


Synthetic glucocorticoids were one of the first effective treatments for lymphoid malignancies because of their ability to induce apoptosis and are still used in combination with other chemotherapeutic agents. Up-regulation of Bim, a proapoptotic member of the B-cell lymphoma-2 family, is an important mediator of glucocorticoid-induced apoptosis. Although glucocorticoids are known to elevate Bim mRNA and protein, little is known about the mechanism. Here, we report that glucocorticoids repress the expression of the microRNA cluster miR-17∼92, which results in elevated Bim protein expression as a mechanism by which glucocorticoids induce Bim. Using a luciferase-Bim 3' untranslated region construct, we demonstrate that glucocorticoids mediate Bim induction posttranscriptionally after miR-17∼92 repression, resulting in increased Bim protein expression. Overexpression of miR-17∼92 microRNAs decreases Bim induction and attenuates glucocorticoid-mediated apoptosis. Conversely, knockdown of miR-17∼92 increases Bim protein expression and glucocorticoid-mediated apoptosis. These findings indicate that endogenous levels of miR-17∼92 repress Bim expression in T-cell lymphoid malignancies and that glucocorticoids induce Bim expression via down-regulation of the miR-17∼92 microRNA cluster. Our findings present a novel mechanism that contributes to the up-regulation of Bim and induction of apoptosis in lymphocytes after glucocorticoid treatment. Furthermore, our work demonstrating that inhibition of miR-17∼92 increases glucocorticoid-induced apoptosis highlights the potential importance of miR-17∼92 as a therapeutic target in leukemias and lymphomas.

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