Infection-driven inflammation has been implicated in the pathogenesis of ~15–20% of human tumors. Expression of microRNA-155 (miR-155) is elevated during innate immune response and autoimmune disorders as well as in various malignancies. However, the molecular mechanisms providing miR-155 with its oncogenic properties remain unclear. We examined the effects of miR-155 overexpression and proinflammatory environment on the frequency of spontaneous hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) mutations that can be detected based on the resistance to 6-thioguanine. Both miR-155 overexpression and inflammatory environment increased the frequency of HPRT mutations and down-regulated WEE1 (WEE1 homolog-S. pombe), a kinase that blocks cell-cycle progression. The increased frequency of HPRT mutation was only modestly attributable to defects in mismatch repair machinery. This result suggests that miR-155 enhances the mutation rate by simultaneously targeting different genes that suppress mutations and decreasing the efficiency of DNA safeguard mechanisms by targeting of cell-cycle regulators such as WEE1. By simultaneously targeting tumor suppressor genes and inducing a mutator phenotype, miR-155 may allow the selection of gene alterations required for tumor development and progression. Hence, we anticipate that the development of drugs reducing endogenous miR-155 levels might be key in the treatment of inflammation-related cancers
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