MicroRNAs are ∼22-nucleotide sequences thought to interact with multiple mRNAs resulting in either translational repression or degradation. We previously reported that several microRNAs had variable expression in mammalian cell lines, and we examined one, miR-200c, in more detail. A combination of bioinformatics and quantitative reverse transcription-PCR was used to identify potential targets and revealed that the zinc finger transcription factor transcription factor 8 (TCF8; also termed ZEB1, δEF1, Nil-2-α) had inversely proportional expression levels to miR-200c. Knockout experiments using anti-microRNA oligonucleotides increased TCF8 levels but with nonspecific effects. Therefore, to investigate target predictions, we overexpressed miR-200c in select cells lines. Ordinarily, the expression level of miR-200c in non-small-cell lung cancer A549 cells is low in contrast to normal human bronchial epithelial cells. Stable overexpression of miR-200c in A549 cells results in a loss of TCF8, an increase in expression ofits regulatory target, E-cadherin, and altered cell morphology. In MCF7 (estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer) cells, there is endogenous expression of miR-200c and E-cadherin but TCF8 is absent. Conversely, MDA-MB-231 (estrogen receptor-negative) cells lack detectable miR-200c and E-cadherin (the latter reportedly due to promoter region methylation) but express TCF8. The ectopic expression of miR-200c in this cell line also reduced levels of TCF8, restored E-cadherin expression, and altered cell morphology. Because the down-regulation of E-cadherin is a crucial event in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, loss of miR-200c expression could play a significant role in the initiation of an invasive phenotype, and, equally, miR-200c overexpression holds potential for its reversal.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research