The tumor suppressor protein p53 is intricately regulated by various signaling molecules, including non-coding small RNAs, called microRNAs (miRNAs). The in silico analysis and the inverse expression status in various cell lines raised the possibility of miR-27a being a new regulator of p53. Using luciferase reporter assay and various mutational and functional analysis, we identified two putative binding sites of miR-27a on the 3′-UTR of p53. The overexpression of miR-27a in the human colorectal cancer cell line HCT-116+/+ resulted in the decreased expression of the endogenous p53 protein levels. During hypoxia of the HCT-116+/+ cells, p53 showed increased accumulation after 3 h, and the levels were significantly up-regulated until 24 h of hypoxia. The p53 expression dynamics during hypoxia of the HCT-116+/+ cells were found to be inversely regulated by miR-27a expression. Moreover, using a cell viability assay, we established that after 3 h of hypoxia, the accumulation of p53 results in a decreased number of the viable HCT-116+/+ cells and the overexpression of miR-27a resulted in an increased number of viable HCT-116+/+ cells with a concomitant decrease in p53 expression. Additionally, our data indicated that miR-27a and p53 depict inverse expression dynamics in 50% of the human colorectal cancer samples studied, when compared with that in the adjacent normal samples. Our data established that miR-27a and the tumor suppressor protein p53 are part of the same signaling network that has important implications during hypoxia and tumorigenesis.

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