Let-7a inhibits migration, invasion and epithelial-mesenchymal transition by targeting HMGA2 in nasopharyngeal carcinoma

Aibing Wu, Kunpeng Wu, Jinmei Li, Yanli Mo, Yanming Lin, Yuzhou Wang, Xiang Shen, Shujun Li, Lixia Li, Zhixiong Yang
Journal of Translational Medicine 2015, 13: 105

BACKGROUND: Let-7a has been shown to play important roles in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) cell proliferation and apoptosis, but little is known about the function and mechanism of let-7a in nasopharyngeal carcinoma metastasis. We aimed to investigate the function and mechanism of let-7a in nasopharyngeal carcinoma metastasis and clarified the regulation of high mobility group A2 (HMGA2) by let-7a.

METHODS: The expression levels of let-7a and HMGA2 were examined in NPC clinical specimens using quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (RT-qPCR). HMGA2 was confirmed as a target of let-7a through luciferase reporter assays, RT-qPCR, and Western blotting. Furthermore, the roles of let-7a and HMGA2 in regulating NPC cells biological properties including proliferation, migration, invasion and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) process were analyzed with let-7a mimics and si-HMGA2 transfected cells.

RESULTS: Our study demonstrated that let-7a was downregulated and inversely associated with the clinical stage, T classification and N classification, and HMGA2 was upregulated and directly associated with the clinical stage and N classification in patients with NPC. Moreover, there was an inverse correlation between let-7a expression and HMGA2 expression in NPC patient. In addition, HMGA2 was negatively regulated at the posttranscriptional level by let-7a via a binding site of HMGA2-3'UTR. In addition, synthetic let-7a mimics suppressed NPC cells migration, invasion and EMT process and knockdown of HMGA2 was consistent with the effects of let-7a in NPC cells.

CONCLUSION: Let-7a directly downregulates HMGA2 protein expression, which suppress NPC cell migration, invasion and EMT process. Let-7a could serve as a potential diagnostic marker and therapeutic target for NPC.

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