Scientific reports

HIF-inducible miR-191 promotes migration in breast cancer through complex regulation of TGFβ-signaling in hypoxic microenvironment.

PMID 25867965


The molecular mechanisms of hypoxia induced breast cell migration remain incompletely understood. Our results show that hypoxia through hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) brings about a time-dependent increase in the level of an oncogenic microRNA, miR-191 in various breast cancer cell lines. miR-191 enhances breast cancer aggressiveness by promoting cell proliferation, migration and survival under hypoxia. We further established that miR-191 is a critical regulator of transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ)-signaling and promotes cell migration by inducing TGFβ2 expression under hypoxia through direct binding and indirectly by regulating levels of a RNA binding protein, human antigen R (HuR). The levels of several TGFβ pathway genes (like VEGFA, SMAD3, CTGF and BMP4) were found to be higher in miR-191 overexpressing cells. Lastly, anti-miR-191 treatment given to breast tumor spheroids led to drastic reduction in spheroid tumor volume. This stands as a first report of identification of a microRNA mediator that links hypoxia and the TGFβ signaling pathways, both of which are involved in regulation of breast cancer metastasis. Together, our results show a critical role of miR-191 in hypoxia-induced cancer progression and suggest that miR-191 inhibition may offer a novel therapy for hypoxic breast tumors.