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Oncotarget. 2016 Mar 29;7(13):15915-29. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.7432.

miR-30e controls DNA damage-induced stress responses by modulating expression of the CDK inhibitor p21WAF1/CIP1 and caspase-3.

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Laboratory of Molecular Radiooncology, Clinic and Policlinic for Radiation Therapy and Radiooncology, Medical Faculty of The Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, Germany.
Institute for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology II, Medical Faculty of The Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, Germany.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs), a class of small non-coding RNAs that usually cause gene silencing by translational repression or degradation of mRNAs, are implicated in DNA damage-induced stress responses. To identify senescence-associated miRNAs, we performed microarray analyses using wild-type and p53-deficient HCT116 colon carcinoma cells that following gamma-irradiation (γIR) are driven into senescence and apoptosis, respectively. Several miRNAs including miR-30e were found upregulated in a p53-dependent manner specifically in senescent cells, but not in apoptotic cells. Overexpression of miR-30e in HCT116 cells not only inhibited γIR-, etoposide- or miR-34a-induced caspase-3-like DEVDase activities and cell death, but greatly accelerated and augmented their senescent phenotype. Consistently, procaspase-3 protein, but not mRNA decreased in the presence of miR-30e, whereas expression of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21 increased both at the mRNA and protein level. Performing luciferase reporter gene assays, we identified the 3'-UTR of the caspase-3 mRNA as a direct miR-30e target. In contrast, although miR-30e was unable to bind to the p21 mRNA, it increased expression of a luciferase construct containing the p21 promoter, suggesting that the miR-30e-mediated upregulation of p21 occurs indirectly at the transcriptional level. Interestingly, despite suppressing procaspase-3 expression, miR-30e was unable to protect RKO colon carcinoma cells from DNA damage-induced death or to induce senescence, as miR-30e completely fails to upregulate p21 in these cells. These data suggest that miR-30e functions in a cell type-dependent manner as an important molecular switch for DNA damage-induced stress responses and may thus represent a target of therapeutic value.


apoptosis; caspase-3; microRNA-30e; p21; senescence

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