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Association between DNA Methylation in the miR-328 5’-Flanking Region and Inter-individual Differences in miR-328 and BCRP Expression in Human Placenta

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072906
  • Research Article
  • Biology


MicroRNA (miRNA) are non-coding small RNA that regulate gene expression. MiR-328 is reported to influence breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP) expression in cancer cells. As a large inter-individual difference in BCRP levels is observed in various human tissues, the contribution of miR-328 to these differences is of interest. We hypothesized that DNA methylation in the miR-328 promoter region is responsible for the difference in miR-328 levels, leading to inter-individual variability in BCRP levels in human placenta. The association between placental miR-328 and BCRP levels was analyzed, and then DNA methylation in the miR-328 5'-flanking region and regulatory mechanisms causing inter-individual differences in miR-328 and BCRP levels were examined. MiR-328 expression was significantly correlated with BCRP mRNA (Rs = -0.560, P < 0.01) and protein (Rs = -0.730, P < 0.01) levels. It was also up-regulated by the demethylating agent 5-aza-2’-deoxycytidine in BCRP-expressing cells. Luciferase assays with differentially methylated reporter constructs indicated that methylation in the miR-328 5’-flanking region including a predicted CpG island remarkably decreased transcriptional activity compared to that in unmethylated constructs. We selected CCAAT/enhancer binding protein α (C/EBPα), located within the predicted CpG island, by in silico analysis. To elucidate the role of C/EBPα in miR-328 expression, a chromatin immunoprecipitation assay, promoter deletion analysis, and electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) were performed. C/EBPα-binding site-truncated constructs showed significantly decreased promoter activity, and EMSA indicated that the C/EBPα-binding sites were located in the CpG island. Finally, the methylation patterns of several CpG dinucleotides proximal to two C/EBPα-binding sites in the miR-328 5’-flanking region were correlated negatively with miR-328 levels, and positively with BCRP levels in human placental samples. These results suggest that methylation patterns in the miR-328 5’-flanking region are involved in the inter-individual difference in BCRP levels in human placenta.

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