MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been suggested to repress transcription via binding the 3'-untranslated regions of mRNAs. However, the involvement and details of miRNA-mediated epigenetic regulation, particularly in targeting genomic DNA and mediating epigenetic regulation, remain largely uninvestigated. In the present study, transcription factor CCAAT/enhancer binding protein delta (CEBPD) was responsive to the anticancer drug bortezomib, a clinical and highly selective drug for leukemia treatment, and contributed to bortezomib-induced cell death. Interestingly, following the identification of CEBPD-induced miRNAs, we found that miR-744, miR-3154 and miR-3162 could target CpG islands in the 5'-flanking region of the CEBPD gene. We previously demonstrated that the Yin Yang 1 (YY1)/polycomb group (PcG) protein/DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) complex is important for CCAAT/enhancer binding protein delta (CEBPD) gene inactivation; we further found that Argonaute 2 (Ago2) interacts with YY1 and binds to the CEBPD promoter. The miRNA/Ago2/YY1/PcG group protein/DNMT complex linked the inactivation of CEBPD and genes adjacent to its 5'-flanking region, including protein kinase DNA-activated catalytic polypeptide (PRKDC), minichromosome maintenance-deficient 4 (MCM4) and ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme E2 variant 2 (UBE2V2), upon bortezomib treatment. Moreover, we revealed that miRNA binding is necessary for YY1/PcG group protein/DNMT complex-mediated epigenetic gene silencing and is associated with bortezomib-induced methylation on genomic DNA. The present study successfully characterized the interactions of the miRNA/Ago2/YY1/PcG group protein/DNMT complex and provided new insights for miRNA-mediated epigenetic regulation in bortezomib-induced leukemic cell arrest and cell death.
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