miR-21 is the most commonly over-expressed microRNA (miRNA) in cancer and a proven oncogene. Hsa-miR-21 is located on chromosome 17q23.2, immediately downstream of the vacuole membrane protein-1 (VMP1) gene, also known as TMEM49. VMP1 transcripts initiate ∼130kb upstream of miR-21, are spliced, and polyadenylated only a few hundred base pairs upstream of the miR-21 hairpin. On the other hand, primary miR-21 transcripts (pri-miR-21) originate within the last introns of VMP1, but bypass VMP1 polyadenylation signals to include the miR-21 hairpin. Here, we report that VMP1 transcripts can also bypass these polyadenylation signals to include miR-21, thus providing a novel and independently regulated source of miR-21, termed VMP1-miR-21. Northern blotting, gene-specific RT-PCR, RNA pull-down and DNA branching assays support that VMP1-miR-21 is expressed at significant levels in a number of cancer cell lines and that it is processed by the Microprocessor complex to produce mature miR-21. VMP1 and pri-miR-21 are induced by common stimuli, such as phorbol-12- myristate-13-acetate (PMA) and androgens, but show differential responses to some stimuli such as epigenetic modifying agents. Collectively, these results indicate that miR-21 is a unique miRNA capable of being regulated by alternative polyadenylation and two independent gene promoters.
ASJC Scopus subject areas