Unregulated miR-96 induces cell proliferation in human breast cancer by downregulating transcriptional factor FOXO3a

PLoS One. 2010 Dec 23;5(12):e15797. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0015797.


FOXO transcription factors are key tumor suppressors in mammalian cells. Until now, suppression of FOXOs in cancer cells was thought to be mainly due to activation of multiple onco-kinases by a phosphorylation-ubiquitylation-mediated cascade. Therefore, it was speculated that inhibition of FOXO proteins would naturally occur through a multiple step post-translational process. However, whether cancer cells may downregulate FOXO protein via an alternative regulatory mechanism is unclear. In the current study, we report that expression of miR-96 was markedly upregulated in breast cancer cells and breast cancer tissues compared with normal breast epithelial cells (NBEC) and normal breast tissues. Ectopic expression of miR-96 induced the proliferation and anchorage-independent growth of breast cancer cells, while inhibition of miR-96 reduced this effect. Furthermore, upregulation of miR-96 in breast cancer cells resulted in modulation of their entry into the G1/S transitional phase, which was caused by downregulation of cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitors, p27(Kip1) and p21(Cip1), and upregulation of the cell-cycle regulator cyclin D1. Moreover, we demonstrated that miR-96 downregulated FOXO3a expression by directly targeting the FOXO3a 3'-untranslated region. Taken together, our results suggest that miR-96 may play an important role in promoting proliferation of human breast cancer cells and present a novel mechanism of miRNA-mediated direct suppression of FOXO3a expression in cancer cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • Breast / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21 / metabolism
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27 / metabolism
  • Disease Progression
  • Down-Regulation
  • Female
  • Forkhead Box Protein O3
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism


  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • CDKN1A protein, human
  • CDKN1B protein, human
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21
  • FOXO3 protein, human
  • Forkhead Box Protein O3
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • MIRN96 microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27