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MicroRNA-200c modulates epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in human colorectal cancer metastasis

Abstract

Objective Distant metastasis is the major cause of cancer-related death in patients with colorectal cancer (CRC). Although the microRNA-200 (miR-200) family is a crucial inhibitor of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in human cancer, the role of miR-200 members in the pathogenesis of metastatic CRC has not been investigated.

Design Fifty-four pairs of primary CRC and corresponding matched liver metastasis tissue specimens were analysed for expression and methylation status of the miR-200 family members. Functional analysis of miR-200c overexpression was investigated in CRC cell lines, and cells were analysed for proliferation, invasion and migration. Expression of several miR-200c target genes (ZEB1, ETS1 and FLT1) and EMT markers (E-cadherin and vimentin) in CRC cell lines and tissue specimens was validated.

Results Liver metastasis tissues showed higher expression of miR-200c (primary CRC=1.31 vs. liver metastasis=1.59; p=0.0014) and miR-141 (primary CRC=0.14 vs. liver metastasis=0.17; p=0.0234) than did primary CRCs, which was significantly associated with hypomethylation of the promoter region of these miRNAs (primary CRC=61.2% vs. liver metastasis=46.7%; p<0.0001). The invasive front in primary CRC tissues revealed low miR-200c expression by in situ hybridization analysis. Transfection of miR-200c precursors resulted in enhanced cell proliferation but reduced invasion and migration behaviours in CRC cell lines. Overexpression of miR-200c in CRC cell lines caused reduced expression of putative gene targets, and resulted in increased E-cadherin and reduced vimentin expression. The associations between miR-200c, target genes and EMT markers were validated in primary CRCs and matching liver metastasis tissues.

Conclusions miR-200c plays an important role in mediating EMT and metastatic behaviour in the colon. Its expression is epigenetically regulated, and miR-200c may serve as a potential diagnostic marker and therapeutic target for patients with CRC.

  • Colorectal cancer
  • metastasis
  • miR-200c
  • EMT
  • methylation
  • cancer
  • carcinogenesis
  • cell biology
  • gastric cancer
  • cancer genetics
  • cancer syndromes
  • chemotherapy
  • abdominal surgery
  • colorectal antral surgery
  • hepatic surgery
  • DNA microsatellite instability
  • juvenile polyposis
  • HNPCC syndrome
  • familial adenomatous polyposis
  • cancer prevention
  • non-steroidal
  • colon carcinogenesis
  • 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA)
  • molecular genetics
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