Previous studies have shown that miR-146a acts as either an oncogene or a tumor suppressor in various cancers. In this study, we investigated the role of miR-146a in gastric cancer cells and its potential target genes. The results showed that miR-146a expression correlated inversely with WASF2 protein expression in gastric cancer cell lines. Overexpression of miR-146a suppressed the migration and invasion of gastric cancer cells, and also the protein level of WASF2. WASF2 was shown to be a direct target gene of miR-146a by luciferase assays. Restoration of WASF2 promoted the migration and invasion of gastric cancer cells, similar to that mediated by miR-146a inhibition. This study has identified an onco-suppressive role of miR-146a in gastric cancer cells by its reduction of WASF2 expression. The newly identified miR-146a/WASF2 axis partially reveals the molecular mechanism underlying the migration and invasion of gastric cancer cells and represents a new potential therapeutic target for gastric cancer.
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