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Cancer Cell. 2012 Jan 17;21(1):121-35. doi: 10.1016/j.ccr.2011.12.015.

Polycomb-mediated loss of miR-31 activates NIK-dependent NF-κB pathway in adult T cell leukemia and other cancers.

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Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Japan.


Constitutive NF-κB activation has causative roles in adult T cell leukemia (ATL) caused by HTLV-1 and other cancers. Here, we report a pathway involving Polycomb-mediated miRNA silencing and NF-κB activation. We determine the miRNA signatures and reveal miR-31 loss in primary ATL cells. MiR-31 negatively regulates the noncanonical NF-κB pathway by targeting NF-κB inducing kinase (NIK). Loss of miR-31 therefore triggers oncogenic signaling. In ATL cells, miR-31 level is epigenetically regulated, and aberrant upregulation of Polycomb proteins contribute to miR-31 downregulation in an epigenetic fashion, leading to activation of NF-κB and apoptosis resistance. Furthermore, this emerging circuit operates in other cancers and receptor-initiated NF-κB cascade. Our findings provide a perspective involving the epigenetic program, inflammatory responses, and oncogenic signaling.

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