MicroRNA-124 suppresses growth of human hepatocellular carcinoma by targeting STAT3

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2013 Nov 29;441(4):873-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2013.10.157. Epub 2013 Nov 6.


The aberrant expression of microRNAs is associated with development and progression of cancers. Down-regulation of miR-124 has been demonstrated in the hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), but the underlying mechanism by which miR-124 suppresses tumorigenesis in HCC remains elusive. In this study, we found that miR-124 suppresses the tumor growth of HCC through targeting the signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 (STAT3). Overexpression of miR-124 suppressed proliferation and induced apoptosis in HepG-2 cells. Luciferase assay confirmed that miR-124 binding to the 3'-UTR region of STAT3 inhibited the expression of STAT3 and phosphorylated STAT3 proteins in HepG-2 cells. Knockdown of STAT3 by siRNA in HepG-2 cells mimicked the effect induced by miR-124. Overexpression of STAT3 in miR-124-transfected HepG-2 cells effectively rescued the inhibition of cell proliferation caused by miR-124. Furthermore, miR-124 suppressed xenograft tumor growth in nude mice implanted with HepG-2 cells by reducing STAT3 expression. Taken together, our findings show that miR-124 functions as tumor suppressor in HCC by targeting STAT3, and miR-124 may therefore serve as a biomarker for diagnosis and therapeutics in HCC.

Keywords: Apoptosis; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Proliferation; STAT3; miR-124.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Carcinogenesis / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Down-Regulation
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / physiology*
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / genetics*


  • MIRN124 microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • STAT3 protein, human