MicroRNA-224 sustains Wnt/β-catenin signaling and promotes aggressive phenotype of colorectal cancer

Tingting Li, Qiuhua Lai, Shuyang Wang, Juanjuan Cai, Zhiyuan Xiao, Danling Deng, Liuqing He, Hongli Jiao, Yaping Ye, Li Liang, Yanqing Ding, Wenting Liao
Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research: CR 2016 January 29, 35: 21

BACKGROUND: Growing evidence suggests that Wnt/β-catenin pathway plays an important role in CRC development, progression and metastasis. Aberrant miR-224 expression has been reported in CRC. However, the mechanism of miR-224 promotes both proliferation and metastatic ability largely remains unclear.

METHODS: Real-time PCR was used to quantify miR-224 expression. Luciferase reporter assays were conducted to confirm the activity of Wnt/β-catenin pathway and target gene associations, and immunofluorescence staining assay was performed to observe the nuclear translocation of β-catenin. Bioinformatics analysis combined with in vivo and vitro functional assays showed the potential target genes, GSK3β and SFRP2, of miR-224. Specimens from forty patients with CRC were analyzed for the expression of miR-224 and the relationship with GSK3β/SFRP2 by real-time PCR and western blot.

RESULTS: Bioinformatics and cell luciferase function studies verified the direct regulation of miR-224 on the 3'-UTR of the GSK3β and SFRP2 genes, which leads to the activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling and the nuclear translocation of β-catenin. In addition, knockdown of miR-224 significantly recovered the expression of GSK3β and SFRP2 and attenuated Wnt/β-catenin-mediated cell metastasis and proliferation. The ectopic upregulation of miR-224 dramatically inhibited the expression of GSK3β/SFRP2 and enhanced CRC proliferation and invasion.

CONCLUSION: Our research showed mechanistic links between miR-224 and Wnt/β-catenin in the pathogenesis of CRC through modulation of GSK3β and SFRP2.

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