MicroRNA miR-146b-5p regulates signal transduction of TGF-β by repressing SMAD4 in thyroid cancer

M V Geraldo, A S Yamashita, E T Kimura
Oncogene 2012 April 12, 31 (15): 1910-22
MicroRNAs (miRNA) are small non-coding RNAs involved in post-transcriptional gene regulation that have crucial roles in several types of tumors, including papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC). miR-146b-5p is overexpressed in PTCs and is regarded as a relevant diagnostic marker for this type of cancer. A computational search revealed that miR-146b-5p putatively binds to the 3' untranslated region (UTR) of SMAD4, an important member of the transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) signaling pathway. The TGF-β pathway is a negative regulator of thyroid follicular cell growth, and the mechanism by which thyroid cancer cells evade its inhibitory signal remains unclear. We questioned whether the modulation of the TGF-β pathway by miR-146b-5p can contribute to thyroid tumorigenesis. Luciferase reporter assay confirmed the direct binding of miR-146b-5p on the SMAD4 3'UTR. Specific inhibition of miR-146b-5p with a locked nucleic acid-modified anti-miR-146b oligonucleotide significantly increased SMAD4 levels in the human papillary carcinoma cell lines, TPC-1 and BCPAP. Moreover, suppression of miR-146b-5p increased the cellular response to the TGF-β anti-proliferative signal, significantly decreasing the proliferation rate. The overexpression of miR-146b-5p in normal rat follicular PCCL3 cells decreased SMAD4 levels and disrupted TGF-β signal transduction. MiR-146b-5p overexpression in PCCL3 cells also significantly increased cell proliferation in the absence of thyroid-stimulating hormone and conferred resistance to TGF-β-mediated cell-cycle arrest. Additionally, the activation of thyroid most common oncogenes RET/PTC3 and BRAF in PCCL3 cells upregulated miR-146b-5p expression. Our results confirm the oncogenic role of miR-146b-5p in thyroid follicular cells and contribute to knowledge regarding the modulation of TGF-β signal transduction by miRNAs in PTCs.

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