MicroRNAs and Alu elements in the p53-Mdm2-Mdm4 regulatory network

Yonit Hoffman, Yitzhak Pilpel, Moshe Oren

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


p53 is a transcription factor that governs numerous stress response pathways within the cell. Maintaining the right levels of p53 is crucial for cell survival and proper cellular homeostasis. The tight regulation of p53 involves many cellular components, most notably its major negative regulators Mdm2 and Mdm4, which maintain p53 protein amount and activity in tight check. microRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that target specific mRNAs to translational arrest and degradation. miRNAs are also key components of the normal p53 pathway, joining forces with Mdm2 and Mdm4 to maintain proper p53 activity. Here we review the current knowledge of miRNAs targeting Mdm2 and Mdm4, and their importance in different tissues and in pathological states such as cancer. In addition, we address the role of Alu sequences-highly abundant retroelements spread throughout the human genome, and their impact on gene regulation via the miRNA machinery. Alus occupy a significant portion of genes' 3′UTR, and as such they have the potential to impact mRNA regulation. Since Alus are primate-specific, they introduce a new regulatory layer into primate genomes. Alus can influence and alter gene regulation, creating primate-specific cancer-preventive regulatory mechanisms to sustain the transition to longer life span in primates. We review the possible influence of Alu sequences on miRNA functionality in general and specifically within the p53 network.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-197
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Molecular Cell Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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