PloS one

Concordant and discordant regulation of target genes by miR-31 and its isoforms.

PMID 23472152


It has been shown that imprecise cleavage of a primary or precursor RNA by Drosha or Dicer, respectively, may yield a group of microRNA (miRNA) variants designated as "isomiR". Variations in the relative abundance of isoforms for a given miRNA among different species and different cell types beg the question whether these isomiRs might regulate target genes differentially. We compared the capacity of three miR-31 isoforms (miR-31-H, miR-31-P, and miR-31-M), which differ only slightly in their 5'- and/or 3'-end sequences, to regulate several known targets and a predicted target, Dicer. Notably, we found isomiR-31s displayed concordant and discordant regulation of 6 known target genes. Furthermore, we validated a predicted target gene, Dicer, to be a novel target of miR-31 but only miR-31-P could directly repress Dicer expression in both MCF-7 breast cancer cells and A549 lung cancer cells, resulting in their enhanced sensitivity to cisplatin, a known attribute of Dicer knockdown. This was further supported by reporter assay using full length 3'-untranslated region (UTR) of Dicer. Our findings not only revealed Dicer to be a direct target of miR-31, but also demonstrated that isomiRs displayed similar and disparate regulation of target genes in cell-based systems. Coupled with the variations in the distribution of isomiRs among different cells or conditions, our findings support the possibility of fine-tuning gene expression by miRNAs.