MicroRNA-140 mediates RB tumor suppressor function to control stem cell-like activity through interleukin-6.

PMID 28099924


We established an in vitro cell culture system to determine novel activities of the retinoblastoma (Rb) protein during tumor progression. Rb depletion in p53-null mouse-derived soft tissue sarcoma cells induced a spherogenic phenotype. Cells retrieved from Rb-depleted spheres exhibited slower proliferation and less efficient BrdU incorporation, however, much higher spherogenic activity and aggressive behavior. We discovered six miRNAs, including mmu-miR-18a, -25, -29b, -140, -337, and -1839, whose expression levels correlated tightly with the Rb status and spherogenic activity. Among these, mmu-miR-140 appeared to be positively controlled by Rb and to antagonize the effect of Rb depletion on spherogenesis and tumorigenesis. Furthermore, among genes potentially targeted by mmu-miR-140, Il-6 was upregulated by Rb depletion and downregulated by mmu-mir-140 overexpression. Altogether, we demonstrate the possibility that mmu-mir-140 mediates the Rb function to downregulate Il-6 by targeting its 3'-untranslated region. Finally, we detected the same relationship among RB, hsa-miR-140 and IL-6 in a human breast cancer cell line MCF-7. Because IL-6 is a critical modulator of malignant features of cancer cells and the RB pathway is impaired in the majority of cancers, hsa-miR-140 might be a promising therapeutic tool that disrupts linkage between tumor suppressor inactivation and pro-inflammatory cytokine response.

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