CANCER BIOLOGY

Soaking up tumor suppression

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Science  03 Nov 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6363, pp. 605-606
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6363.605-b

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate gene expression by inducing mRNA decay. But miRNAs can be regulated through other RNAs and DNA that bind and sequester them without inducing any mRNA decay; these are known as miRNA sponges. Gilot et al. show that tyrosinase-related protein 1 (TYRP1) mRNA confers a growth advantage to metastatic melanoma cells by functioning as a sponge for miR-16, a tumor-suppressor miRNA. Blocking miR-16 binding to TYRP1 mRNA induced melanoma cell death and reduced the growth of human-derived tumor cells in mice. Thus, understanding the complex interplay and competition between RNAs in gene expression is an important consideration for drug development.

Nat. Cell Biol. 10.1038/ncb3623 (2017).

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