All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), a derivative of retinoid, is involved in the onset of differentiation and apoptosis in a wide variety of normal and cancer cells. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that control gene expression. Several miRNAs were identified to participate in ATRA-mediated cell differentiation. However, no studies have demonstrated whether miRNA can enhance ATRA cytotoxicity, thereby resulting in cell apoptosis. This study investigated the effects of ATRA-mediated miRNA expression in activating apoptotic pathways in glioblastoma. First, we found that high-dose ATRA treatment significantly reduced cell viability, caspase-dependent apoptosis, endoplasmic reticular (ER) stress activation, and intracellular reactive oxygen species accumulation. From microarray data, miR-302b was analyzed as a putative downstream regulator upon ATRA treatment. Furthermore, we found that ATRA up-regulated miR-302b expression in a dose- and time-dependent manner through retinoic acid receptor α-mediated pathway. Overexpression and knockdown of miR-302b significantly influenced ATRA-mediated cytotoxicity. E2F3, an important transcriptional regulator of glioma proliferation, was validated to be a direct target gene of miR-302b. The miR-302b-reduced E2F3 levels were also identified to be associated with ATRA-mediated glioma cell death. These results emphasize that an ATRA-mediated miR-302b network may provide novel therapeutic strategies for glioblastoma therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)731-742
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2014


  • E2F3
  • all-trans retinoic acid
  • apoptosis
  • glioblastoma
  • miR-302b

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Biochemistry


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