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Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2011 Mar;32(3):375-84. doi: 10.1038/aps.2010.206. Epub 2011 Jan 31.

MicroRNA-221 inhibits CDKN1C/p57 expression in human colorectal carcinoma.

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Department of General Surgery, Nanfang Hospital of Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, China.



To investigate the regulatory effect of microRNA-221 (miR-221) on CDKN1C/p57 expression in colorectal carcinoma (CRC).


Thirty four CRC and adjacent non-tumorous tissue samples were collected individually. Total RNA and protein were isolatedand from these samples and four human CRC-derived cell lines (including HT-29, Lovo, SW-480 and Caco2). MiR-221 expression was examined using real-time RT-PCR. CRC cells were treated with or without anti-p57-siRNA prior to the addition of pre-miR-221 or anti-miR-221. The mRNA and protein levels of CDKN1C/p57 were examined using semi-quantitative RT-PCR and Western blot, respectively. CRC cell proliferation and apoptosis were assessed using MTT assay and flow cytometry, respectively. The CDKN1C/p57 3'-UTR fragment was amplified using PCR from the genomic DNA of human colon cells and inserted into a luciferase reporter construct. The reporter construct was then transfected into CRC cells together with pre-miR-221 or anti-miR-221, and the luciferase activity in the transfected cells was examined.


MiR-221 expression was significantly up-regulated in 90% of CRC samples compared to that in the adjacent non-tumorous tissue, and the expression level was positively correlated to an advanced TNM stage and local invasion. There was no significant difference in CDKN1C/p57 mRNA expression between CRC and corresponding non-tumorous tissues, whereas CDKN1C/p57 protein expression was markedly decreased in the CRC samples. A significant inverse correlation between miR-221 and CDKN1C/p57 expression was found in CRC cells. Moreover, a miR-221-specific inhibitor significantly increased CDKN1C/p57 protein expression in CRC cells. Anti-miR-221 markedly inhibited CRC cell proliferation and induced apoptosis. This inhibitory effect was abolished by pretreatment with anti-p57-siRNA, suggesting that the inhibition was mediated by CDKN1C/p57. A significant increase of the luciferase activity was observed in CRC cells co-transfected with the luciferase reporter construct and anti-miR-221.


MiR-221 binds to the target site in the 3'-UTR of the CDKN1C/p57 mRNA to inhibit CDKN1C/p57 expression by post-transcriptional gene silencing to promote CRC occurrence and progress, therefore serving as a potential therapeutic target for the prevention and treatment of CRC.

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