Phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) induces megakaryocytic differentiation of the human chronic myelocytic leukemia cell line K562. We examined the potential regulatory role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in this process. Genome-wide expression profiling identified 21 miRNAs (miRs) that were induced by the treatment of K562 cells with PMA. Among them, the expression of miR-34a, miR-221, and miR-222 was induced in the early stages and maintained throughout the late stages of differentiation. Cell signaling analysis showed that the activation of extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK) in response to PMA strongly induced miR-34a expression by transactivation via the activator protein-1 binding site in the upstream region of the miR-34a gene. Reporter gene assays identified mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 1 (MEK1) as a direct target of miR-34a and c-fos as a direct target of miR-221/222. Although overexpression of the three miRNAs had little effect on cell differentiation, overexpression of miR-34a significantly repressed the proliferation of K562 cells with a concomitant reduction in MEK1 protein expression. Conversely, a locked nucleic acid probe against miR-34a significantly enhanced the proliferation of PMA-treated K562 cells. Taken together, the results show that PMA activates the MEK-ERK pathway and strongly induces miRNA-34a expression, which in turn inhibits cell proliferation by repressing the expression of MEK1. Thus, the results highlight an important regulatory role for miR-34a in the process of megakaryocytic differentiation, especially in the arrest of cell growth, which is a prerequisite for cells to enter differentiation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine