MicroRNA-128 coordinately targets Polycomb Repressor Complexes in glioma stem cells

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The Polycomb Repressor Complex (PRC) is an epigenetic regulator of transcription whose action is mediated by 2 protein complexes, PRC1 and PRC2. PRC is oncogenic in glioblastoma, where it is involved in cancer stem cell maintenance and radioresistance.


We used a set of glioblastoma patient samples, glioma stem cells, and neural stem cells from a mouse model of glioblastoma. We characterized gene/protein expression and cellular phenotypes by quantitative PCR/Western blotting and clonogenic, cell-cycle, and DNA damage assays. We performed overexpression/knockdown studies by lentiviral infection and microRNA/small interfering RNA oligonucleotide transfection.


We show that microRNA-128 (miR-128) directly targets mRNA of SUZ12, a key component of PRC2, in addition to BMI1, a component of PRC1 that we previously showed as a target as well. This blocks the partially redundant functions of PRC1/PRC2, thereby significantly reducing PRC activity and its associated histone modifications. MiR-128 and SUZ12/BMI1 show opposite expression in human glioblastomas versus normal brain and in glioma stemlike versus neural stem cells. Furthermore, miR-128 renders glioma stemlike cells less radioresistant by preventing the radiation-induced expression of both PRC components. Finally, miR-128 expression is significantly reduced in neural stem cells from the brain of young, presymptomatic mice in our mouse model of glioblastoma. This suggests that loss of miR-128 expression in brain is an early event in gliomagenesis. Moreover, knockdown of miR-128 expression in nonmalignant mouse and human neural stem cells led to elevated expression of PRC components and increased clonogenicity.


MiR-128 is an important suppressor of PRC activity, and its absence is an early event in gliomagenesis.

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