Biochemical and biophysical research communications

miR-139-5p inhibits epithelial-mesenchymal transition, migration and invasion of hepatocellular carcinoma cells by targeting ZEB1 and ZEB2.

PMID 26022123


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the third most common cause of cancer deaths worldwide. miRNAs have been suggested to have important roles in HCC development. The purpose of this study was to determine the role of miR-139-5p in regulation of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and metastasis of HCC cells. Expression levels of miR-139-5p in 49 HCC specimens with adjacent tissues and five HCC cell lines were assessed by quantitative RT-PCR. We found that miR-139-5p was down-regulated in 89.7% of the HCC tissue samples and all of the HCC cell lines. In addition, luciferase reporter assays validated direct binding of miR-139-5p to the 3' untranslated region of zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 1 (ZEB1) and ZEB2. Ectopic expression of miR-139-5p suppressed and miR-139-in promoted EMT, migration, and invasion in Hep3B and SMMC7721 cells. Furthermore, over-expression of ZEB1 and ZEB2 ablated the inhibitory effects of miR-139-5p on migration and invasion in HCC cells. Our study indicates that miR-139-5p functions as a suppressor of HCC EMT and metastasis by targeting ZEB1 and ZEB2, and it may be a therapeutic target for metastatic HCC.