Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Biomedical Sciences

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Lin Ji, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jack A. Roth, M.D.

Committee Member

Bingliang Fang, M.D. Ph.D.

Committee Member

Wei Zhang, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Xiaofeng Le, M.D. Ph.D.


Tumor Suppressor Candidate 2 (TUSC2) is a novel tumor suppressor gene located in the human chromosome 3p21.3 region. TUSC2 mRNA transcripts could be detected on Northern blots in both normal lung and some lung cancer cell lines, but no endogenous TUSC2 protein could be detected in a majority of lung cancer cell lines. Mechanisms regulating TUSC2 protein expression and its inactivation in primary lung cancer cells are largely unknown. We investigated the role of the 5’- and 3’-untranslated regions (UTRs) of the TUSC2 gene in the regulation of TUSC2 protein expression. We found that two small upstream open-reading frames (uORFs) in the 5’UTR of TUSC2 could markedly inhibit the translational initiation of TUSC2 protein by interfering with the “scanning” of the ribosome initiation complexes. Site-specific stem-loop array reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (SLA-RT-PCR) verified several micoRNAs (miRNAs) targeted at 3’UTR and directed TUSC2 cleavage and degradation.

In addition, we used the established let-7-targeted high mobility group A2 (Hmga2) mRNA as a model system to study the mechanism of regulation of target mRNA by miRNAs in mammalian cells under physiological conditions. There have been no evidence of direct link between mRNA downregulation and mRNA cleavages mediated by miRNAs. Here we showed that the endonucleolytic cleavages on mRNAs were initiated by mammalian miRNA in seed pairing style. Let-7 directed cleavage activities among the eight predicted potential target sites have varied efficiency, which are influenced by the positional and the structural contexts in the UTR. The 5’ cleaved RNA fragments were mostly oligouridylated at their 3’-termini and accumulated for delayed 5’–3’ degradation. RNA fragment oligouridylation played important roles in marking RNA fragments for delayed bulk degradation and in converting RNA degradation mode from 3’–5’ to 5’–3’ with cooperative efforts from both endonucleolytic and non-catalytic miRNA-induced silencing complex (miRISC). Our findings point to a mammalian miRNA-mediated mechanism for the regulation of mRNA that miRNA can decrease target mRNA through target mRNA cleavage and uridine addition


Post-transcriptional Regulation, non-coding region of RNA, miRNA, UTR, SLA-RT-PCR