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PLoS One. 2016 Aug 10;11(8):e0160961. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0160961. eCollection 2016.

miR-6734 Up-Regulates p21 Gene Expression and Induces Cell Cycle Arrest and Apoptosis in Colon Cancer Cells.

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Bio-Evaluation Center, Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Cheongju, Republic of Korea.
College of Pharmacy, Chungbuk National University, Cheongju, Republic of Korea.


Recently, microRNAs have been implicated in the regulation of gene expression in terms of both gene silencing and gene activation. Here, we investigated the effects of miR-6734, which has a sequence homology with a specific region of p21WAF1/CIP1 (p21) promoter, on cancer cell growth and the mechanisms involved in this effect. miR-6734 up-regulated p21 expression at both mRNA and protein levels and chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis using biotin-labeled miR-6734 confirmed the association of miR-6734 with p21 promoter. Moreover, miR-6734 inhibited cancer cell growth and induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in HCT-116 cells, which was abolished by knockdown of p21. The phosphorylation of Rb and the cleavage of caspase 3 and PARP were suppressed by miR-6734 transfection in HCT-116 cells and these effects were also reversed by p21 knockdown. In addition, miR-6734 transfection caused prolonged induction of p21 gene and modification of histones in p21 promoter, which are typical aspects of a phenomenon referred to as RNA activation (RNAa). Collectively, our results demonstrated that miR-6734 inhibits the growth of colon cancer cells by up-regulating p21 gene expression and subsequent induction of cell cycle arrest and apoptosis, suggesting its role as an important endogenous regulator of cancer cell proliferation and survival.

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