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Downregulation of microRNA-122 promotes proliferation, migration, and invasion of human hepatocellular carcinoma cells by activating epithelial–mesenchymal transition

Authors Wang N, Wang Q, Shen D, Sun X, Cao X, Wu D

Received 14 July 2015

Accepted for publication 15 October 2015

Published 6 April 2016 Volume 2016:9 Pages 2035—2047


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Ashok Kumar Pandurangan

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Professor Daniele Santini

Nanyao Wang, Qiong Wang, Dong Shen, Xia Sun, Xiangming Cao, Dan Wu

Department of Oncology, The Affiliated Jiangyin Hospital, School of Medicine, Southeast University, Jiangyin, Jiangsu, People’s Republic of China

Objective: To investigate the effects of microRNA-122 (miR-122) on proliferation, migration, and invasion in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells by activating epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) pathways.
Methods: miR-122 mimics, miR-122 inhibitors, relevant control oligonucleotides, and Wnt1 were transfected into HepG2 and huh7 cell lines which were then divided into six groups: miR-122 group, anti-miR-122 group, miR-negative control (NC) group, anti-miR-NC group, miR-122 + Wnt1 group, and miR-122 + vector group. The miR-122 expressions and mRNA expressions of Wnt1 and EMT-related genes (E-cadherin, vimentin, β-cadherin, and N-cadherin) were quantified by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Protein expression levels of Wnt1, E-cadherin, vimentin, β-cadherin, and N-cadherin were measured by Western blot. Cell proliferation, migration, and invasion were evaluated using 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay, wound-healing assay, and Transwell assay, respectively.
Results: Dual luciferase reporter gene results showed that Wnt1 is a direct target gene of miR-122 in both HepG2 and huh7 cell lines. Compared to miR-NC, anti-miR-NC, and miR-122 + Wnt1 groups, miR-122 expression was markedly higher in the miR-122 group and miR-122 + vector group, but was sharply decreased in anti-miR-122 group (both P<0.05), and the mRNA and protein levels of Wnt1, vimentin, β-cadherin, and N-cadherin decreased significantly; also E-cadherin increased, and cell proliferation, migration, and invasion decreased in the miR-122 group and miR-122 + vector group (all P<0.05), but the situation was totally reversed in the anti-miR-122 group (all P<0.05).
Conclusion: Downregulation of miR-122 promoted proliferation, migration, and invasion of human HCC cells by targeting Wnt1 and regulating Wnt/β-catenin pathway which activated the EMT pathways.

Keywords: microRNA-122, HepG2 cells, epithelial mesenchymal transition, Wnt1, β-cadherin, proliferation, migration, invasion

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