miRNAs are nodal regulators of gene expression and deregulation of miRNAs is causally associated with different diseases, including cancer. Modulation of miRNA expression is thus of therapeutic importance. Small molecules are currently being explored for their potential to downregulate miRNAs. Peptides have shown to have better potency and selectivity toward their targets but their potential in targeting and modulating miRNAs remain unexplored. Herein, using phage display we found a very selective peptide against pre-miR-21. Interestingly, the peptide has the potential to downregulate miR-21, by binding to pre-miR-21 and hindering Dicer processing. It is selective towards miR-21 inside the cell. By antagonising miR-21 function, the peptide is able to increase the expression of its target proteins and thereby increase apoptosis and suppress cell proliferation, invasion and migration. This peptide can further be explored for its anti-cancer activity in vivo and may be even extended to clinical studies.
© The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.