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.
Copyright © 2013. Published by Elsevier Inc.