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Mol Cancer Res. 2016 Apr;14(4):363-73. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-15-0399. Epub 2016 Feb 5.

miR-155 Overexpression Promotes Genomic Instability by Reducing High-fidelity Polymerase Delta Expression and Activating Error-Prone DSB Repair.

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Department of Genetics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
Department of Genetics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. Department of Therapeutic Radiology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.


miR-155 is an oncogenic miRNA that is often overexpressed in cancer and is associated with poor prognosis. miR-155 can target several DNA repair factors, including RAD51, MLH1, and MSH6, and its overexpression results in an increased mutation frequency in vitro, although the mechanism has yet to be fully understood. Here, we demonstrate that overexpression of miR-155 drives an increased mutation frequency both in vitro and in vivo, promoting genomic instability by affecting multiple DNA repair pathways. miR-155 overexpression causes a decrease in homologous recombination, but yields a concurrent increase in the error-prone nonhomologous end-joining pathway. Despite repressing established targets MLH1 and MSH6, the identified mutation pattern upon miR-155 overexpression does not resemble that of a mismatch repair-deficient background. Further investigation revealed that all four subunits of polymerase delta, a high-fidelity DNA replication, and repair polymerase are downregulated at the mRNA level in the context of miR-155 overexpression. FOXO3a, a transcription factor and known target of miR-155, has one or more putative binding site(s) in the promoter of all four polymerase delta subunits. Finally, suppression of FOXO3a by miR-155 or by siRNA knockdown is sufficient to repress the expression of the catalytic subunit of polymerase delta, POLD1, at the protein level, indicating that FOXO3a contributes to the regulation of polymerase delta levels.


Taken together, miR-155 overexpression drives an increase in mutation frequency via multifaceted impact on DNA damage response and DNA repair pathways.

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