© 2017 The Author(s). Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells are highly dependent on microenvironment, being the BCR pathway one key player in this crosstalk. Among proteins participating, ZAP-70 enhances response to microenvironmental stimuli. MicroRNA-21 (miR-21) is overexpressed in diverse neoplasias including CLL, where it has been associated to refractoriness to fludarabine and to shorter time to progression and survival. To further elucidate the role of ZAP-70 in the biology of CLL, we studied its involvement in miR-21 regulation. MiR-21 expression was higher in CLL cells with high ZAP-70. Ectopic expression of ZAP-70 induced transcription of miR-21 via MAPK and STAT3, which subsequently induced downregulation of tumor suppressors targeted by miR-21. The co-culture of primary CLL cells mimicking the microenvironment induced ZAP-70 and miR-21 expression, as well as downregulation of miR-21 targets. Interestingly, the increase in miR-21 after co-culture was significantly impaired by ibrutinib, indicating that the BCR signaling pathway is involved in its regulation. Finally, survival of CLL cells induced by the co-culture correlated with miR-21 upregulation. In conclusion, stimuli from the microenvironment regulate miR-21 and its targeted tumor suppressor genes via a signaling pathway involving ZAP-70, thus contributing to the cytoprotection offered by the microenvironment particularly observed in CLL cells expressing ZAP-70.
|Publication status||Published - 1 Dec 2017|