The Journal of investigative dermatology

MicroRNA-26a is strongly downregulated in melanoma and induces cell death through repression of silencer of death domains (SODD).

PMID 23190898


Melanoma is an aggressive cancer that metastasizes rapidly and is refractory to conventional chemotherapies. Identifying microRNAs (miRNAs) that are responsible for this pathogenesis is therefore a promising means of developing new therapies. We identified miR-26a through microarray and quantitative reverse-transcription-PCR (qRT-PCR) experiments as an miRNA that is strongly downregulated in melanoma cell lines as compared with primary melanocytes. Treatment of cell lines with miR-26a mimic caused significant and rapid cell death compared with a negative control in most melanoma cell lines tested. In surveying targets of miR-26a, we found that protein levels of SMAD1 (mothers against decapentaplegic homolog 1) and BAG-4/SODD were strongly decreased in sensitive cells treated with miR-26a mimic as compared with the control. The luciferase reporter assays further demonstrated that miR-26a can repress gene expression through the binding site in the 3' untranslated region (3'UTR) of SODD (silencer of death domains). Knockdown of these proteins with small interfering RNA (siRNA) showed that SODD has an important role in protecting melanoma cells from apoptosis in most cell lines sensitive to miR-26a, whereas SMAD1 may have a minor role. Furthermore, transfecting cells with a miR-26a inhibitor increased SODD expression. Our findings indicate that miR-26a replacement is a potential therapeutic strategy for metastatic melanoma, and that SODD, in particular, is a potentially useful therapeutic target.