Inherited variation in miR-290 expression suppresses breast cancer progression by targeting the metastasis susceptibility gene Arid4b

Cancer Res. 2013 Apr 15;73(8):2671-81. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-3513. Epub 2013 Feb 27.


The metastatic cascade is a complex and extremely inefficient process with many potential barriers. Understanding this process is of critical importance because the majority of cancer mortality is associated with metastatic disease. Recently, it has become increasingly clear that microRNAs (miRNA) play important roles in tumorigenesis and metastasis, yet few studies have examined how germline variations may dysregulate miRNAs, in turn affecting metastatic potential. To explore this possibility, the highly metastatic MMTV-PyMT mice were crossed with 25 AKXD (AKR/J × DBA/2J) recombinant inbred strains to produce F1 progeny with varying metastatic indices. When mammary tumors from the F1 progeny were analyzed by miRNA microarray, miR-290 (containing miR-290-3p and miR-290-5p) was identified as a top candidate progression-associated miRNA. The microarray results were validated in vivo when miR-290 upregulation in two independent breast cancer cell lines suppressed both primary tumor and metastatic growth. Computational analysis identified breast cancer progression gene Arid4b as a top target of miR-290-3p, which was confirmed by luciferase reporter assay. Surprisingly, pathway analysis identified estrogen receptor (ER) signaling as the top canonical pathway affected by miR-290 upregulation. Further analysis showed that ER levels were elevated in miR-290-expressing tumors and positively correlated with apoptosis. Taken together, our results suggest miR-290 targets Arid4b while simultaneously enhancing ER signaling and increasing apoptosis, thereby suppressing breast cancer progression. This, to the best of our knowledge, is the first example of inherited differences in miRNA expression playing a role in breast cancer progression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Receptors, Estrogen / genetics
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • MIRN290 microRNA, mouse
  • MicroRNAs
  • Rbbp1l1 protein, mouse
  • Receptors, Estrogen