Background: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of endogenously expressed, small noncoding RNAs, which suppress its target mRNAs at the post-transcriptional level. Studies have demonstrated that miR-34a, which is a direct target of the p53 tumor suppressor gene, functions as a tumor suppressor and is associated with the tumor growth and metastasis of various human malignances. However, the role of miR-34a in osteosarcoma has not been totally elucidated. In the present study, the effects of miR-34a on osteosarcoma and the possible mechanism by which miR-34a affected the tumor growth and metastasis of osteosarcoma were investigated.
Methodology/principal finding: Over-expression of miR-34a partially inhibited proliferation, migration and invasion of osteosarcoma cells in vitro, as well as the tumor growth and pulmonary metastasis of osteosarcoma cells in vivo. c-Met is a target of miR-34a, and regulates the migration and invasion of osteosarcoma cells. Osteosarcoma cells over-expressing miR-34a exhibited a significant decrease in the expression levels of c-Met mRNA and protein simultaneously. Finally, the results from bioinformatics analysis demonstrated that there were multiple putative targets of miR-34a that may be associated with the proliferation and metastasis of osteosarcoma, including factors in Wnt and Notch signaling pathways.
Conclusion/significance: The results presented in this study demonstrated that over-expression of miR-34a could inhibit the tumor growth and metastasis of osteosarcoma probably through down regulating c-Met. And there are other putative miR-34a target genes beside c-Met which could potentially be key players in the development of osteosarcoma. Since pulmonary metastases are responsible for mortality of patient carrying osteosarcoma, miR-34a may prove to be a promising gene therapeutic agent. It will be interesting to further investigate the mechanism by which miR-34a functions as a tumor suppressor gene in osteosarcoma.