ATM is down-regulated by N-Myc-regulated microRNA-421

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Jan 26;107(4):1506-11. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0907763107. Epub 2010 Jan 4.


Ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM) is a high molecular weight protein serine/threonine kinase that plays a central role in the maintenance of genomic integrity by activating cell cycle checkpoints and promoting repair of DNA double-strand breaks. Little is known about the regulatory mechanisms for ATM expression itself. MicroRNAs are naturally existing regulators that modulate gene expression in a sequence-specific manner. Here, we show that a human microRNA, miR-421, suppresses ATM expression by targeting the 3'-untranslated region (3'UTR) of ATM transcripts. Ectopic expression of miR-421 resulted in S-phase cell cycle checkpoint changes and an increased sensitivity to ionizing radiation, creating a cellular phenotype similar to that of cells derived from ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T) patients. Blocking the interaction between miR-421 and ATM 3'UTR with an antisense morpholino oligonucleotide rescued the defective phenotype caused by miR-421 overexpression, indicating that ATM mediates the effect of miR-421 on cell cycle checkpoint and radiosensitivity. Overexpression of the N-Myc transcription factor, an oncogene frequently amplified in neuroblastoma, induced miR-421 expression, which, in turn, down-regulated ATM expression, establishing a linear signaling pathway that may contribute to N-Myc-induced tumorigenesis in neuroblastoma. Taken together, our findings implicate a previously undescribed regulatory mechanism for ATM expression and ATM-dependent DNA damage response and provide several potential targets for treating neuroblastoma and perhaps A-T.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3' Untranslated Regions*
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated Proteins
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Down-Regulation*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Neuroblastoma / genetics
  • Neuroblastoma / metabolism*
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / metabolism*
  • S Phase / radiation effects
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism*


  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • MIRN421 microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • ATM protein, human
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated Proteins
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases