Background: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been documented as playing important roles in cancer development. In this study, we investigated the role of miR-124 in breast cancer and clarified the regulation of flotillin-1 (FLOT1) by miR-124.
Methods: The expression levels of miR-124 were examined in breast cancer cell lines and patient specimens using quantitative reverse transcription-PCR. The clinicopathological significance of the resultant data was later analyzed. Next, we explored the function of miR-124 to determine its potential roles on cancer cell growth and migration in vitro. A luciferase reporter assay was conducted to confirm the target gene of miR-124, and the results were validated in cell lines and patient specimens.
Results: We found that miR-124 expression was significantly downregulated in breast cancer cell lines and patient specimen compared with normal cell lines and paired adjacent normal tissues (P < 0.0001), respectively. MiR-124 was also associated with tumor node metastasis (TNM) stage (P = 0.0007) and lymph node metastasis (P = 0.0004). In breast cancer cell lines, the ectopic expression of miR-124 inhibited cell growth and migration in vitro. Moreover, we identified the FLOT1 gene as a novel direct target of miR-124, and miR-124 ectopic expression significantly inhibited FLOT1. Luciferase assays confirmed that miR-124 could directly bind to the 3' untranslated region of FLOT1 and suppress translation. Moreover, FLOT1 was widely upregulated, and inversely correlated with miR-124 in breast cancer tissues. Consistent with the effect of miR-124, the knockdown of FLOT1 significantly inhibited breast cancer cell growth and migration. We also observed that the rescue expression of FLOT1 partially restored the effects of miR-124.
Conclusions: Our study demonstrated that miR-124 might be a tumor suppressor in breast cancer via the regulation of FLOT1. This microRNA could serve as a potential diagnostic marker and therapeutic target for breast cancer.