Adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATL) is a highly aggressive T-cell malignancy. This study was designed to explore the expression and functional significance of microRNA (miR)-212 in ATL. The expression of miR-212 in human ATL tissues and cell lines were investigated. Gain-of-function experiments were carried out to determine the roles of miR-212 in cell proliferation, tumorigenesis, cell cycle progression, and apoptosis. We also identified and functionally characterized the target genes of miR-212 in ATL cells. Compared with normal lymph node biopsies, lymphoma samples from ATL patients displayed underexpression of miR-212 (p=0.0032). Consistently, miR-212 was downregulated in human ATL cell lines, compared with normal T lymphocytes. Restoration of miR-212 significantly (p<0.05) inhibited ATL cell proliferation and tumorigenesis in mice. Overexpression of miR-212 led to an accumulation of G0/G1-phase cells and a concomitant reduction of S-phase cells. Moreover, enforced expression of miR-212-induced significant apoptosis in ATL cells. CCND3, which encodes a cell cycle regulator cyclin D3, was identified as a direct target of miR-212 in ATL cells. Rescue experiments with a miR-212-resistant variant of CCND3 demonstrated that overexpression of CCND3 restored cell-cycle progression and attenuated apoptotic response in miR-212-overexpressing ATL cells. Taken together, miR-212 exerts growth-suppressive effects in ATL cells largely by targeting CCND3 and may have therapeutic potential in ATL.
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