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AU-1 from Agavaceae plants causes transient increase in p21/Cip1 expression in renal adenocarcinoma ACHN cells in an miR-34-dependent manner


Here, we show that AU-1, spirostanol saponin isolated from Agavaceae plants, causes a transient increase in cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor (CDKI) p21/Cip1 through the upregulation of miRNAs, miR-34 and miR-21. AU-1 stimulated p21/Cip1 expression without exerting cytotoxicity against different types of carcinoma cell lines. In renal adenocarcinoma ACHN cells, AU-1 transiently elevated the expression level of p21/Cip1 protein without marked increases in p21/Cip1 mRNA levels. Rapid and transient increases in miR-34 and miR-21, both of which are known to upregulate p21/Cip1, were observed in AU-1-treated cells. Inhibitor for miR-34 and for miR-21 significantly blocked the AU-1-caused increase in p21/Cip1, indicating that elevation of p21/Cip1 protein by AU-1 is dependent on these microRNAs. We further clarified that NAD-dependent deacetylase SIRT1, a direct target of miR-34, is decreased by the treatment with AU-1. Furthermore, we found that SIRT1-knockdown increases p21/Cip1 protein levels in an miR-21-dependent manner. On the other hand, ectopic expression of p21/Cip1 resulted in the lowered expression of miR-34 and miR-21, suggesting that reciprocal regulation exists between p21/Cip1 and these miRNAs. We propose that the following feedback network composed of miR-34/SIRT1/miR-21/p21 is triggered by the treatment with AU-1: in cells treated with AU-1, transient elevation of miR-34 leads to the downregulation of SIRT1, thereby miR-21 is freed from SIRT1-dependent suppression. Then, elevated miR-21 upregulates p21/Cip1 protein, followed by the suppression of miR-34 expression.

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We thank Ken Ando, Toshiyuki Oshima, and Harutaka Ichikawa for their helpful advice and discussions. This work was supported, in part, by a grant from the Japan Private School Promotion Foundation.

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Correspondence to Tomofumi Fujino.

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Fujino, T., Yokosuka, A., Higurashi, H. et al. AU-1 from Agavaceae plants causes transient increase in p21/Cip1 expression in renal adenocarcinoma ACHN cells in an miR-34-dependent manner. J Nat Med 71, 36–43 (2017).

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  • Agave utahensis
  • p21/Cip1
  • miR-34
  • miR-21
  • SIRT1