MicroRNA-155 is regulated by the transforming growth factor β/smad pathway and contributes to epithelial cell plasticity by targeting RhoA

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Transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) signaling facilitates metastasis in advanced malignancy. While a number of protein-encoding genes are known to be involved in this process, information on the role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in TGF-β-induced cell migration and invasion is still limited. By hybridizing a 515-miRNA oligonucleotide-based microarray library, a total of 28 miRNAs were found to be significantly deregulated in TGF-β-treated normal murine mammary gland (NMuMG) epithelial cells but not Smad4 knockdown NMuMG cells. Among upregulated miRNAs, miR-155 was the most significantly elevated miRNA. TGF-β induces miR-155 expression and promoter activity through Smad4. The knockdown of miR-155 suppressed TGF-β-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and tight junction dissolution, as well as cell migration and invasion. Further, the ectopic expression of miR-155 reduced RhoA protein and disrupted tight junction formation. Reintroducing RhoA cDNA without the 3' untranslated region largely reversed the phenotype induced by miR-155 and TGF-β. In addition, elevated levels of miR-155 were frequently detected in invasive breast cancer tissues. These data suggest that miR-155 may play an important role in TGF-β-induced EMT and cell migration and invasion by targeting RhoA and indicate that it is a potential therapeutic target for breast cancer intervention.

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