Attenuation of dexamethasone-induced cell death in multiple myeloma is mediated by miR-125b expression

Megan Y Murray, Stuart A Rushworth, Lyubov Zaitseva, Kristian M Bowles, David J Macewan

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64 Citations (Scopus)


Dexamethasone is a key front-line chemotherapeutic for B-cell malignant multiple myeloma (MM). Dexamethasone modulates MM cell survival signaling but fails to induce marked cytotoxicity when used as a monotherapy. We demonstrate here the mechanism behind this insufficient responsiveness of MM cells toward dexamethasone, revealing in MM a dramatic anti-apoptotic role for microRNA (miRNA)-125b in the insensitivity toward dexamethasone-induced apoptosis. MM cells responding to dexamethasone exhibited enhanced expression of oncogenic miR-125b. Dexamethasone also induced expression of miR-34a, which acts to suppress SIRT1 deacetylase, and thus allows maintained acetylation and inactivation of p53. p53 mRNA is also suppressed by miR-125b targeting. Reporter assays showed that both these dexamethasone-induced miRNAs act downstream of their target genes to prevent p53 tumor suppressor actions and, ultimately, resist cytotoxic responses in MM. Use of antisense miR-125b transcripts enhanced expression of pro-apoptotic p53, repressed expression of anti-apoptotic SIRT1 and, importantly, significantly enhanced dexamethasone-induced cell death responses in MM. Pharmacological manipulations showed that the key regulation enabling complete dexamethasone sensitivity in MM cells lies with miR-125b. In summary, dexamethasone-induced miR-125b induces cell death resistance mechanisms in MM cells via the p53/miR-34a/SIRT1 signaling network and provides these cells with an enhanced level of resistance to cytotoxic chemotherapeutics. Clearly, such anti-apoptotic mechanisms will need to be overcome to more effectively treat nascent, refractory and relapsed MM patients. These mechanisms provide insight into the role of miRNA regulation of apoptosis and their promotion of MM cell proliferative mechanisms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2144-2153
Number of pages10
JournalCell Cycle
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2013

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