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Cellular expression of Mcl-1, an anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family member, is tightly regulated. Recently, Bcl-2 expression was shown to be regulated by microRNAs, small endogenous RNA molecules that regulate protein expression through sequence-specific interaction with messenger RNA. By analogy, we reasoned that Mcl-1 expression may also be regulated by microRNAs. We chose human immortalized, but non-malignant, H69 cholangiocyte and malignant KMCH cholangiocarcinoma cell lines for these studies, because Mcl-1 is dysregulated in cells with the malignant phenotype. By in silico analysis, we identified a putative target site in the Mcl-1 mRNA for the mir-29 family, and found that mir-29b was highly expressed in cholangiocytes. Interestingly, mir-29b was downregulated in malignant cells, consistent with Mcl-1 protein upregulation. Enforced mir-29b expression reduced Mcl-1 protein expression in KMCH cells. This effect was direct, as mir-29b negatively regulated the expression of an Mcl-1 3' untranslated region (UTR)-based reporter construct. Enforced mir-29b expression reduced Mcl-1 cellular protein levels and sensitized the cancer cells to tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) cytotoxicity. Transfection of non-malignant cells (that express high levels of mir-29) with a locked-nucleic acid antagonist of mir-29b increased Mcl-1 levels and reduced TRAIL-mediated apoptosis. Thus mir-29 is an endogenous regulator of Mcl-1 protein expression, and thereby, apoptosis.

MeSH Headings

Apoptosis, Cell Line, Transformed, Cell Line, Tumor, Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic, Humans, MicroRNAs, Myeloid Cell Leukemia Sequence 1 Protein, Neoplasm Proteins, Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2




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