Melanoma differentiation-associated gene-7/IL-24 (mda-7/IL-24) displays broad-spectrum anticancer activity in vitro, in vivo in preclinical animal models, and in a phase I/II clinical trial in patients with advanced cancers without harming normal cells or tissues. Here we demonstrate that mda-7/IL-24 regulates a specific subset of miRNAs, including cancer-associated miR-221. Either ectopic expression of mda-7/IL-24 or treatment with recombinant His-MDA-7 protein resulted in downregulation of miR-221 and upregulation of p27 and PUMA in a panel of cancer cells, culminating in cell death. Mda-7/IL-24–induced cancer cell death was dependent on reactive oxygen species induction and was rescued by overexpression of miR-221. Beclin-1 was identified as a new transcriptional target of miR-221, and mda-7/IL-24 regulated autophagy through a miR-221/beclin-1 feedback loop. In a human breast cancer xenograft model, miR-221–overexpressing MDA-MB-231 clones were more aggressive and resistant to mda-7/IL-24–mediated cell death than parental clones. This is the first demonstration that mda-7/IL-24 directly regulates miRNA expression in cancer cells and highlights the novelty of the mda-7/IL-24–miR-221–beclin-1 loop in mediating cancer cell–specific death. Cancer Res; 77(4); 949–59. ©2016 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Cancer Research Online (http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received June 27, 2016.
- Revision received November 3, 2016.
- Accepted November 23, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.