Background: Our recent studies of microRNA (miRNA) expression signature demonstrated that microRNA-874 (miR-874) was significantly downregulated in maxillary sinus squamous cell carcinoma (MSSCC), and a putative tumour-suppressive miRNA in human cancers. Our aim of this study was to investigate the functional significance of miR-874 in cancer cells and to identify novel miR-874-mediated cancer pathways and responsible genes in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).
Methods: Gain-of-function studies using mature miR-874 were performed to investigate cell proliferation and cell cycle distribution in HNSCC cell lines (SAS and FaDu). To identify miR-874-mediated molecular pathways and targets, we utilised gene expression analysis and in silico database analysis. Loss-of-function assays were performed to investigate the functional significance of miR-874 target genes.
Results: Expression levels of miR-874 were significantly downregulated in HNSCC tissues (including oral, pharyngeal and laryngeal SCCs) compared with normal counterpart epithelia. Restoration of miR-874 in SAS and FaDu cell lines revealed significant inhibition of cell proliferation and induction of G2/M arrest and cell apoptosis. Our expression data and in silico analysis demonstrated that miR-874 modulated the cell cycle pathway. Moreover, histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1) was a candidate target of miR-874 regulation. Luciferase reporter assays showed that miR-874 directly regulated HDAC1. Silencing of the HDAC1 gene significantly inhibited cell proliferation and induced G2/M arrest and cell apoptosis in SAS cells.
Conclusions: Downregulation of miR-874 was a frequent event in HNSCC. miR-874 acted as a tumour suppressor and directly targeted HDAC1. Recognition of tumour-suppressive miRNA-mediated cancer pathways provides new insights into the potential mechanisms of HNSCC oncogenesis and suggests novel therapeutic strategies for the disease.