Gu S, Cheung HH, Lee TL, Lu G, Poon WS, Chan WY
MicroRNA-199a (miRNA-199a) has been shown to have comprehensive functions and behave differently in different systems and diseases. It is encoded by two loci in the human genome, miR-199a-1 in chromosome 19 and miR-199a-2 in chromosome 1. Both loci give rise to the same miRNAs (miR-199a-5p and miR-199a-3p). The cause of the diverse action of the miRNA in different systems is not clear. However, it is likely due to different regulation of the two genomic loci and variable targets of the miRNA in different cells and tissues. Here we studied promoter methylation of miR-199a in testicular germ cell tumors (TGCTs) and glioblastomas (gliomas) and discovered that hypermethylation in TGCTs of both miR-199a-1 and -2 resulted in its reduced expression, while hypomethylation of miR-199a-2 but not -1 in gliomas may be related to its elevated expression. We also identified a common regulator, REST, which preferentially bound to the methylated promoters of both miR-199a-1 and miR-199a-2. The action of miR-199a is dependent on its downstream targets. We identified MAFB as a putative target of miRNA-199a-5p in TGCTs and confirmed that the tumor suppression activity of the microRNA is mediated by its target MAFB. By studying the mechanisms that control the expressions of miR-199a and its various downstream targets, we hope to use miR-199a as a model to understand the complexity of miRNA biology.