Background: MicroRNA-34 is a family of three miRNAs that have been reported to function as tumor suppressor miRNAs and show decreased expression in various cancers. Here, we examine functions of miR-34c in basal-like breast cancer cells.
Methods: Data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) were used for evaluation of expression in primary breast cancers. Cellular processes affected by miR-34c were investigated by thymidine incorporation, Annexin V-assays and cell cycle analysis using breast cancer cell lines. Effects on potential targets were analyzed with qPCR and Western blot.
Results: TCGA data revealed that miR-34c was expressed at lower levels in basal-like breast cancer tumors and low expression was associated with poor prognosis. Ectopic expression of miR-34c in basal-like breast cancer cell lines resulted in suppressed proliferation and increased cell death. Additionally, miR-34c influenced the cell cycle mainly by inducing an arrest in the G2/M phase. We found that expression levels of the known cell cycle-regulating miR-34 targets CCND1, CDK4 and CDK6, were downregulated upon miR-34c expression in breast cancer cell lines. In addition, the levels of CDC23, an important mediator in mitotic progression, were suppressed following miR-34c expression, and siRNAs targeting CDC23 mimicked the effect of miR-34c on G2/M arrest. However, protein levels of PRKCA, a predicted miR-34c target and a known regulator of breast cancer cell proliferation were not influenced by miR-34c.
Conclusions: Together, our results support the role of miR-34c as a tumor suppressor miRNA also in breast cancer.