TP53 and Let-7a micro-RNA Regulate K-Ras Activity in HCT116 Colorectal Cancer Cells

Carrie Luu, Eileen L. Heinrich, Marjun Duldulao, Amanda K. Arrington, Marwan Fakih, Julio Garcia-Aguilar, Joseph Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Recent reports have indicated that KRAS and TP53 mutations predict response to therapy in colorectal cancer. However, little is known about the relationship between these two common genetic alterations. Micro-RNAs (miRNAs), a class of noncoding RNA implicated in cellular processes, have been increasingly linked to KRAS and TP53. We hypothesized that lethal-7a (let-7a) miRNA regulates KRAS through TP53. To investigate the relationship between KRAS, TP53, and let-7a, we used HCT116 KRASmut human colorectal cancer cells with four different genotypic modifications in TP53 (TP53-/-, TP53+/-, TP53mut/+, and TP53mut/-). Using these cells we observed that K-Ras activity was higher in cells with mutant or knocked out TP53 alleles, suggesting that wild-type TP53 may suppress K-Ras activity. Let-7a was present in HCT116 KRASmut cells, though there was no correlation between let-7a level and TP53 genotype status. To explore how let-7a may regulate K-Ras in the different TP53 genotype cells we used let-7a inhibitor and demonstrated increased K-Ras activity across all TP53, thus corroborating prior reports that let-7a regulates K-Ras. To assess potential clinical implications of this regulatory network, we examined the influence of TP53 genotype and let-7a inhibition on colon cancer cell survival following chemoradiation therapy (CRT). We observed that cells with complete loss of wild-type TP53 alleles (-/- or -/mut) were resistant to CRT following treatment with 5-fluorouracil and radiation. Further increase in K-Ras activity with let-7a inhibition did not impact survival in these cells. In contrast, cells with single or double wild-type TP53 alleles were moderately responsive to CRT and exhibited resistance when let-7a was inhibited. In summary, our results show a complex regulatory system involving TP53, KRAS, and let-7a. Our results may provide clues to understand and target these interactions in colorectal cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere70604
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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