Research Papers:

Epigenetic Regulation of miRNA-211 by MMP-9 Governs Glioma Cell Apoptosis, Chemosensitivity and Radiosensitivity

Swapna Asuthkar _, Kiran Kumar Velpula, Chandramu Chetty, Bharathi Gorantla and Jasti S. Rao

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Oncotarget. 2012; 3:1439-1454. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.683

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Swapna Asuthkar1, Kiran Kumar Velpula1, Chandramu Chetty1, Bharathi Gorantla1 and Jasti S. Rao1,2

1 Departments of Cancer Biology and Pharmacology, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, Peoria, IL, U.S.A.

2 Departments of Neurosurgery, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, Peoria, IL, U.S.A.


Jasti S. Rao, email:

Keywords: Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), microRNA-211 (miR-211), Cancer Stem Cells (CSC), Ionizing radiation (IR) and Temozolomide (Tem)

Received: September 28, 2012, Accepted: November 14, 2012, Published: November 16, 2012


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most aggressive brain cancer, and to date, no curative treatment has been developed. In this study, we report that miR-211, a microRNA predicted to target MMP-9, is suppressed in grade IV GBM specimens. Furthermore, we found that miR-211 suppression in GBM involves aberrant methylation-mediated epigenetic silencing of the miR-211 promoter. Indeed, we observed a highly significant inverse correlation between miR-211 expression and MMP-9 protein levels, which is indicative of post-transcriptional control of gene expression. Additionally, shRNA specific for MMP-9 (pM) promoted miR-211 expression via demethylation of miR-211 promoter-associated CpG islands (-140 to +56). In independent experiments, we confirmed that miR-211 overexpression and pM treatments led to the activation of the intrinsic mitochondrial/Caspase-9/3-mediated apoptotic pathway in both glioma cells and cancer stem cells (CSC). We also investigated whether miR-211 is involved in the regulation of MMP-9 and thus plays a functional role in GBM. We found an acute inhibitory effect of miR-211 on glioma cell invasion and migration via suppression of MMP-9. Given the insensitivity of some GBMs to radiation and chemotherapy (temozolomide) along with the hypothesis that glioma CSC cause resistance to therapy, our study indicates that miR-211 or pM in combination with ionizing radiation (IR) and temozolomide significantly induces apoptosis and DNA fragmentation. Of note, miR-211- and pM-treated CSC demonstrated increased drug retention capacity, as observed by MDR1/P-gp mediated-Rhodamine 123 drug efflux activity assay. These results suggest that either rescuing miR-211 expression or downregulation of MMP-9 may have a new therapeutic application for GBM patients in the future.

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