Galardi S, Mercatelli N, Farace MG, Ciafrè SA
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are potent negative regulators of gene expression involved in all aspects of cell biology. They finely modulate virtually all physiological pathways in metazoans, and are deeply implicated in all main pathologies, among which cancer. Mir-221 and miR-222, two closely related miRNAs encoded in cluster from a genomic region on chromosome X, are strongly upregulated in several forms of human tumours. In this work, we report that the ectopic modulation of NF-kB modifies miR-221/222 expression in prostate carcinoma and glioblastoma cell lines, where we had previously shown their oncogenic activity. We identify two separate distal regions upstream of miR-221/222 promoter which are bound by the NF-kB subunit p65 and drive efficient transcription in luciferase reporter assays; consistently, the site-directed mutagenesis disrupting p65 binding sites or the ectopical inhibition of NF-kB activity significantly reduce luciferase activity. In the most distal enhancer region, we also define a binding site for c-Jun, and we show that the binding of this factor cooperates with that of p65, fully accounting for the observed upregulation of miR-221/222. Thus our work uncovers an additional mechanism through which NF-kB and c-Jun, two transcription factors deeply involved in cancer onset and progression, contribute to oncogenesis, by inducing miR-221/222 transcription.