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Mol Cancer. 2013 Aug 14;12:92. doi: 10.1186/1476-4598-12-92.

The identification of novel targets of miR-16 and characterization of their biological functions in cancer cells.

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Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital, Huanhuxi Road, Tiyuanbei, Tianjin 300060, China.



In eukaryotes, miR-16 is an important microRNA (miRNA) that is involved in numerous biological processes. However, it is not fully understood how miR-16 executes its physiological functions. In the present study, we aimed to identify novel miR-16 targets and study their biological functions.


Candidate target genes of miR-16 were screened by microarray analysis of mRNA levels in several cancer cell lines with enhanced miR-16. Three bioinformatics algorithms, including TargetScan, PicTar, and miRanda, were used in combination to calculate the miR-16 targets. The expression levels of miR-16 and target mRNA were examined by relative quantification RT-PCR, and the expression levels of target protein were detected by Western blot. Luciferase reporter plasmids were constructed to confirm direct targeting. The effect of miR-16 and target gene on cell viability was evaluated using MTT assays. The effects of miR-16 and target gene on apoptosis and cell cycle distribution were evaluated by flow cytometry analysis.


By overexpressing miR-16 in several cancer cell lines and measuring global mRNA levels using microarray analysis, we identified 27 genes that may be regulated by miR-16. After the bioinformatics filtering process, 18 genes were selected as candidate miR-16 targets. Furthermore, we experimentally validated three of these candidates, MAP7 (microtubule-associated protein 7), PRDM4 (PR domain containing 4) and CDS2 (CDP-diacylglycerol synthase 2), as direct targets of miR-16. Finally, we demonstrated that miR-16 targeting MAP7 played a critical role in regulating proliferation but not apoptosis and cell cycle progression in cancer cells.


In summary, the present study identifies several novel miR-16 targets and illustrates a novel function of miR-16 targeting MAP7 in modulating proliferation in cancer cells.

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