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Carcinogenesis. 2012 Jul;33(7):1294-301. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgs179. Epub 2012 May 18.

miR-181a/b significantly enhances drug sensitivity in chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells via targeting multiple anti-apoptosis genes.

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Department of Hematology, First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Jiangsu Province Hospital Nanjing 210029, China.

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  • Carcinogenesis. 2013 Sep;34(9):2192.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been shown to play critical roles in regulating the progress of leukemia. We performed miRNA expression profile in six Chinese patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and in peripheral B cells from pooled 30 healthy donors, using a platform containing 866 human miRNAs. The most frequent changes in miRNAs in CLL cells included downregulation of miR-126, miR-572, miR-494, miR-923, miR-638, miR-130a, miR-181a and miR-181b and up-regulation of miR-29a, miR-660, miR-20a, miR-106b, miR-142-5p, miR-101, miR-30b, miR-34a, miR-let-7f, miR-21 and miR-155. Among the miRNAs down-regulated in CLL cells, we showed that miR-181a/b expression levels were significantly lower in poor prognostic subgroups defined by unmutated immunoglobulin heavy chain variable status and p53 aberrations. Furthermore, under-expression of miR-181a and miR-181b was associated with shorter overall survival and treatment-free survival in CLL patients. We further evaluated fludarabine-induced apoptosis after transfection of primary CLL cells from 40 patients with miR-15a, miR-16-1, miR-34a, miR-181a and miR-181b mimics. Transfection of miR-34a, miR-181a and miR-181b mimics into CLL cells from p53 wild-type patients led to significant increase in apoptosis compared with miRNA control. However, enforced expression of these miRNAs had no effect on B-CLL cells from p53-attenuated patients. We further demonstrated that miR-181a and miR-181b inhibiting BCL-2, MCL-1 and X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein by direct binding to 3'UTR. Thus, these results suggest that miR-181a/b may play important roles in the pathogenesis of CLL and may provide a possible therapeutic avenue and a sensitive indicator of the activity of the p53 axis in CLL.

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