Regulation of Nuclear Receptor Nur77 by miR-124

Tenga, Alexa; Beard, Jordan A.; Takwi, Apana; Wang, Yue-Ming; Chen, Taosheng
February 2016
PLoS ONE;2/3/2016, Vol. 11 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
The nuclear receptor Nur77 is commonly upregulated in adult cancers and has oncogenic functions. Nur77 is an immediate-early response gene that acts as a transcription factor to promote proliferation and protect cells from apoptosis. Conversely, Nur77 can translocate to the mitochondria and induce apoptosis upon treatment with various cytotoxic agents. Because Nur77 is upregulated in cancer and may have a role in cancer progression, it is of interest to understand the mechanism controlling its expression. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are responsible for inhibiting translation of their target genes by binding to the 3ʹUTR and either degrading the mRNA or preventing it from being translated into protein, thereby making these non-coding endogenous RNAs vital regulators of every cellular process. Several miRNAs have been predicted to target Nur77; however, strong evidence showing the regulation of Nur77 by any miRNA is lacking. In this study, we used a luciferase reporter assay containing the 3ʹUTR of Nur77 to screen 296 miRNAs and found that miR-124, which is the most abundant miRNA in the brain and has a role in promoting neuronal differentiation, caused the greatest reduction in luciferase activity. Interestingly, we discovered an inverse relationship in Daoy medulloblastoma cells and undifferentiated granule neuron precursors in which Nur77 is upregulated and miR-124 is downregulated. Exogenous expression to further elevate Nur77 levels in Daoy cells increased proliferation and viability, but knocking down Nur77 via siRNA resulted in the opposite phenotype. Importantly, exogenous expression of miR-124 reduced Nur77 expression, cell viability, proliferation, and tumor spheroid size in 3D culture. In all, we have discovered miR-124 to be downregulated in instances of medulloblastoma in which Nur77 is upregulated, resulting in a proliferative state that abets cancer progression. This study provides evidence for increasing miR-124 expression as a potential therapy for cancers with elevated levels of Nur77.


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