Survivin expression is differentially regulated by a selective cross-talk between RBM38 and miRNAS let-7b or miR-203a

Christopher A. Lucchesi, Jin Zhang, Buyong Ma, Ruth Nussinov, Xinbin Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


RNA-binding motif 38 (RBM38) is a member of a protein family with a highly conserved RNA-binding motif and has been shown to regulate mRNA processing, stability, and translation. Survivin is an essential modulator of apoptotic and nonapoptotic cell death as well as a stress responder. Survivin mRNA is the fourth most frequently overexpressed transcript in the human cancer transcriptome, and its aberrant expression is associated with chemo-/radioresistance and poor prognosis. In this study, we examined whether survivin expression is regulated by RBM38. RBM38 bound to survivin 3′-untranslated region and suppressed miRNA let-7b from binding to and degrading survivin mRNA, leading to increased survivin expression. RBM38 interacted with argonaute-2 (AGO2) and facilitated miR-203a-mediated degradation of survivin mRNA, leading to decreased survivin expression. Due to the abundance of let-7b over miR-203a, RBM38 ultimately increased survivin expression in HCT116 and MCF7 cells. In addition, Ser-195 in RBM38 interacted with Glu-73/-76 in AGO2, and Pep8, an eight-amino acid peptide spanning the region of Ser-195 in RBM38, blocked the RBM38-AGO2 interaction and inhibited miR-203a-mediated mRNA degradation, leading to enhanced survivin expression. Furthermore, Pep8 cooperated with YM155, an inhibitor of survivin, to suppress tumor spheroid growth and viability. Pep8 sensitized tumor cells to YM155-induced DNA damage in an RBM38-dependent manner. Together, our data indicate that RBM38 is a dual regulator of survivin and that Pep8/YM155 may be therapeutically explored for tumor suppression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1827-1839
Number of pages13
JournalCancer Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


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