Regulation of MicroRNAs Targeting the Angiogenic Switch Molecule Fibroblast Growth Factor Binding Protein 1 by Retinoic Acid Receptor Activation
This dissertation examines the role of retinoic acid receptor activation in the post-transcriptional regulation of a fibroblast growth factor binding protein. Previous work showed that all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) reduces mRNA expression of the angiogenic switch molecule, Fibroblast Growth Factor Binding Protein 1 (FGFBP1 or FGF-BP), independent of an effect on transcription of the FGFBP1 mRNA. I hypothesized that a retinoid-induced microRNA was involved in FGFBP1 mRNA loss. MicroRNAs (miRs) are 19-22 nucleotide (nt) single stranded non-coding RNAs that post-transcriptionally repress mature mRNA function, thereby reducing expression of their target proteins. The current dogma suggests that miRs canonically bind to the 3' untranslated region (UTR) of mRNA through a 7-nt seed-matched site. However, recent data indicate that miRs may also bind the open reading frame (ORF) of mRNAs. In this dissertation, I show that miR-27b-3p and miR-125a-5p are induced by ATRA and target FGFBP1. Overexpression of miR-27b-3p and miR-125a-5p rapidly reduced FGFBP1 mRNA levels through a target site in the open reading frame of the FGFBP1 mRNA. Both microRNAs showed specificity for regions within the ORF of FGFBP1, suggesting that these microRNAs may also be involved in inhibiting translation of the FGFBP1 protein. Next generation sequencing data from The Cancer Genome Atlas shows that loss of these microRNAs is characteristic of several epithelial cancers, including head and neck, lung, and cervical squamous cell carcinomas, suggesting a tumor suppressor role for miRs 27a-3p and 125a-5p. In total, these data suggest an important regulatory role for miRs 27b-3p and 125a-5p in the oncogenesis of squamous cell carcinomas, through modulation of FGFBP1 expression.
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