MiR-200b and miR-15b regulate chemotherapy-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition in human tongue cancer cells by targeting BMI1

L Sun, Y Yao, B Liu, Z Lin, L Lin, M Yang, W Zhang, W Chen, C Pan, Q Liu, E Song, J Li
Oncogene 2012 January 26, 31 (4): 432-45
Chemotherapy has been reported to induce epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in tumor cells, which is a critical step in the process of metastasis leading to cancer spreading and treatment failure. However, the underlying mechanisms of chemotherapy-induced EMT remain unclear, and the involvement of microRNAs (miRNA) in this process is poorly understood. To address these questions, we established stable chemotherapy-resistant tongue squamous cell carcinoma (TSCC) cell lines CAL27-res and SCC25-res by exposing the parental CAL27 and SCC25 lines to escalating concentrations of cisplatin for 6 months. CAL27-res and SCC25-res cells displayed mesenchymal features with enhanced invasiveness and motility. MiRNA microarray illustrated that miR-200b and miR-15b were the most significantly downregulated microRNAs in CAL27-res cells. Ectopic expression of miR-200b and miR-15b with miRNA mimics effectively reversed the phenotype of EMT in CAL27-res and SCC25-res cells, and sensitized them to chemotherapy, but inhibition of miR-200b and miR-15b in the sensitive lines with anti-sense oligonucleotides induced EMT and conferred chemoresistance. Retrieving the expression of B lymphoma Mo-MLV insertion region 1 homolog (BMI1), a target for miR-200b and miR-15b, in the presence of the miRNA mimics by transfecting CAL27-res cells with pcDNA3.1-BMI1-carrying mutated seed sequences of miR-200b or miR-15b at its 3'-UTR recapitulated chemotherapy-induced EMT. In vivo, enforced miR-200b or miR-15b expression suppressed metastasis of TSCC xenografts established by CAL27-res cells. Clinically, reduced miR-200b or miR-15b expression was associated with chemotherapeutic resistance in TSCCs and poor patient survival. Our data suggest that reduced expression of miR-200b and miR-15b underscores the mechanisms of chemotherapy-induced EMT in TSCC, and may serve as therapeutic targets to reverse chemotherapy resistance in tongue cancers.

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