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1.  Transcriptional inhibiton of Hoxd4 expression by miRNA-10a in human breast cancer cells 
BMC Molecular Biology  2009;10:12.
Small noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs), including short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and microRNAs (miRNAs), can silence genes at the transcriptional, post-transcriptional or translational level [1,2].
Here, we show that microRNA-10a (miR-10a) targets a homologous DNA region in the promoter region of the hoxd4 gene and represses its expression at the transcriptional level. Mutational analysis of the miR-10a sequence revealed that the 3' end of the miRNA sequence is the most critical element for the silencing effect. MicroRNA-10a-induced transcriptional gene inhibition requires the presence of Dicer and Argonautes 1 and 3, and it is related to promoter associated noncoding RNAs. Bisulfite sequencing analysis showed that the reduced hoxd4 expression was accompanied by de novo DNA methylation at the hoxd4 promoter. We further demonstrated that trimethylation of histone 3 lysine 27 (H3K27me3) is involved in the miR-10a-induced hoxd4 transcriptional gene silence.
In conclusion, our results demonstrate that miR-10a can regulate human gene expression in a transcriptional manner, and indicate that endogenous small noncoding RNA-induced control of transcription may be a potential system for expressional regulation in human breast cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC2680403  PMID: 19232136
2.  In vivo analysis of Caenorhabditis elegans noncoding RNA promoter motifs 
Noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) play important roles in a variety of cellular processes. Characterizing the transcriptional activity of ncRNA promoters is therefore a critical step toward understanding the complex cellular roles of ncRNAs.
Here we present an in vivo transcriptional analysis of three C. elegans ncRNA upstream motifs (UM1-3). Transcriptional activity of all three motifs has been demonstrated, and mutational analysis revealed differential contributions of different parts of each motif. We showed that upstream motif 1 (UM1) can drive the expression of green fluorescent protein (GFP), and utilized this for detailed analysis of temporal and spatial expression patterns of 5 SL2 RNAs. Upstream motifs 2 and 3 do not drive GFP expression, and termination at consecutive T runs suggests transcription by RNA polymerase III. The UM2 sequence resembles the tRNA promoter, and is actually embedded within its own short-lived, primary transcript. This is a structure which is also found at a few plant and yeast loci, and may indicate an evolutionarily very old dicistronic transcription pattern in which a tRNA serves as a promoter for an adjacent snoRNA.
The study has demonstrated that the three upstream motifs UM1-3 have promoter activity. The UM1 sequence can drive expression of GFP, which allows for the use of UM1::GFP fusion constructs to study temporal-spatial expression patterns of UM1 ncRNA loci. The UM1 loci appear to act in concert with other upstream sequences, whereas the transcriptional activities of the UM2 and UM3 are confined to the motifs themselves.
PMCID: PMC2527325  PMID: 18680611
3.  Systematic identification of non-coding RNA 2,2,7-trimethylguanosine cap structures in Caenorhabditis elegans 
The 2,2,7-trimethylguanosine (TMG) cap structure is an important functional characteristic of ncRNAs with critical cellular roles, such as some snRNAs. Here we used immunoprecipitation with both K121 and R1131 anti-TMG antibodies to systematically identify the TMG cap structures for all presently characterized ncRNAs in C. elegans.
The two anti-TMG antibodies precipitated a similar group of the C. elegans ncRNAs. All snRNAs known to have a TMG cap structure were found in the precipitate, indicating that our identification system was efficient. Other ncRNA families related to splicing, such as SL RNAs and Sm Y RNAs, were also found in the precipitate, as were 7 C/D box snoRNAs. Further analysis showed that the SL RNAs and the Sm Y RNAs shared a very similar Sm binding site element (AAU4–5GGA), which sequence composition differed somewhat from those of other U snRNAs. There were also 16 ncRNAs without an Sm binding site element in the precipitate, suggesting that for these ncRNAs, TMG formation may occur independently of Sm proteins.
Our results showed that most ncRNAs predicted to be transcribed by RNA polymerase II had a TMG cap, while those predicted to be transcribed by RNA plymerase III or located in introns did not have a TMG cap structure. Compared to ncRNAs without a TMG cap, TMG-capped ncRNAs tended to have higher expression levels. Five functionally non-annotated ncRNAs also have a TMG cap structure, which might be helpful for identifying the cellular roles of these ncRNAs.
PMCID: PMC2200864  PMID: 17903271

Results 1-3 (3)