Oncology reports

miR-122 inhibits viral replication and cell proliferation in hepatitis B virus-related hepatocellular carcinoma and targets NDRG3.

PMID 21725618


microRNAs (miRNAs) are short, non-coding RNAs with post-transcriptional regulatory functions that participate in diverse biological pathways. miR-122, a liver-specific miRNA, has been found to be down-regulated in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and HCC-derived cell lines. In this study, miR-122 was down-regulated in the hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related HCC cell line HepG2.2.15 compared to HepG2. NDRG3, a member of the N-myc downstream-regulated gene (NDRG) family, was up-regulated in HepG2.2.15 and was identified as a target gene of miR-122. An inverse correlation between the expression of miR-122 and the NDRG3 protein was noted in HBV-related HCC specimens. The transfection of the miR-122 expression vector into the HepG2.2.15 cell line repressed the transcription and expression of NDRG3, which subsequently reversed the malignant phenotype of the cells. The replication of HBV, expression of viral antigens and proliferation of cells were significantly inhibited by restoration of miR-122. The data demonstrate that miR-122 plays an important role in HBV-related hepatocarcinogenesis by targeting NDRG3. Thus, miR-122 and NDRG3 represent key diagnostic markers and potential therapeutic targets for HBV-related HCC.