Background: Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a key step of the progression of tumor cell metastasis. Recent work has demonstrated some miRNAs play critical roles in EMT. In this study, we focused on the roles of miR-300 in regulating EMT.
Methods: The expression levels of miR-300 were examined in epithelial carcinoma cells that underwent an EMT using quantitative reverse transcription-PCR. The role of miR-300 in EMT was investigated by transfection of the miR-300 mimic or inhibitor in natural epithelial-mesenchymal phenotype cell line pairs and in transforming growth factor (TGF) beta-induced EMT cell models. A luciferase reporter assay and a rescue experiment were conducted to confirm the target gene of miR-300. The efficacy of miR-300 against tumor invasion and metastasis was evaluated both in vitro and in vivo. Correlation analysis between miR-300 expression and the expression levels of its target gene, as well as tumor metastasis was performed in specimens from patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).
Results: MiR-300 was found down-regulated in the HNSCC cells and breast cancer cells that underwent EMT. Ectopic expression of miR-300 effectively blocked TGF-beta-induced EMT and reversed the phenotype of EMT in HN-12 and MDA-MB-231 cells, but inhibition of miR-300 in the epithelial phenotype cells, HN-4 and MCF-7 cells, could induce EMT. The luciferase reporter assay and the rescue assay results showed that miR-300 directly targets the 3'UTR of Twist. Enforced miR-300 expression suppressed cell invasion in vitro and experimental metastasis in vivo. Clinically, miR-300 expression was found inversely correlated with Twist expression and reduced miR-300 was associated with metastasis in patient specimens.
Conclusions: Down-regulation of miR-300 is required for EMT initiation and maintenance. MiR-300 may negatively regulate EMT by direct targeting Twist and therefore inhibit cancer cell invasion and metastasis, which implicates miR-300 as an attractive candidate for cancer therapy.