MicroRNA 135a suppresses lymph node metastasis through down-regulation of ROCK1 in early gastric cancer

PLoS One. 2014 Jan 21;9(1):e85205. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085205. eCollection 2014.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play a critical role in gastric cancer progression and metastasis. This study investigated the role of miRNA-135a in early gastric cancer (EGC) including lymph node (LN) metastasis. We examined the correlation between miRNA-135a expression and clinical outcomes in 59 patients who underwent surgery for EGC. Using gastric cancer cell lines, we performed functional and target gene analyses. miRNA-135a expression was down-regulated in 33.9% of patients. These patients showed a significantly more advanced stage (TNM stage ≥ IB, 35.0% vs. 12.8%, p = 0.045) and higher rate of LN metastasis (30.0% vs. 5.1%, p = 0.014) than those with up-regulation of miRNA-135a expression. In a multivariate analysis, down-regulation of miRNA-135a was an independent risk factor for LN metastasis (adjusted odds ratio, 8.04; 95% confidence interval, 1.08-59.81; p = 0.042). Functional analyses using gastric cancer cell lines showed that miRNA-135a suppressed cell viability, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, cell invasion, and migration. ROCK1 was a target of miRNA-135a and its expression was inversely correlated to that of miRNA-135a. ROCK1 expression was significantly increased in EGC patients with LN metastasis than in those without LN metastasis. Our results confirm the tumor-suppressive role of miRNA-135a, and demonstrate its role in LN metastasis in EGC. miRNA-135a and its target gene ROCK1 may be novel therapeutic and prognostic targets for EGC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / diagnosis
  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics*
  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Signet Ring Cell / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Signet Ring Cell / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Signet Ring Cell / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Signet Ring Cell / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Protein Binding
  • Stomach Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Stomach Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology
  • rho-Associated Kinases / genetics*
  • rho-Associated Kinases / metabolism


  • MIRN135 microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs
  • ROCK1 protein, human
  • rho-Associated Kinases

Grant support

This study was funded by grant 1110532-3 from the National Cancer Center, Korea. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.