Gα12 gep oncogene deregulation of p53-responsive microRNAs promotes epithelial-mesenchymal transition of hepatocellular carcinoma

Oncogene. 2015 May 28;34(22):2910-21. doi: 10.1038/onc.2014.218. Epub 2014 Jul 28.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has a poor prognosis owing to aggressive phenotype. Gα12 gep oncogene product couples to G-protein-coupled receptors, whose ligand levels are frequently increased in tumor microenvironments. Here, we report Gα12 overexpression in human HCC and the resultant induction of zinc-finger E-box-binding homeobox 1 (ZEB1) as mediated by microRNA deregulation. Gα12 expression was higher in HCC than surrounding non-tumorous tissue. Transfection of Huh7 cell with an activated mutant of Gα12 (Gα12QL) deregulated microRNA (miRNA or miR)-200b/a/429, -194-2/192 and -194-1/215 clusters in the miRNome. cDNA microarray analyses disclosed the targets affected by Gα12 gene knockout. An integrative network of miRNAs and mRNA changes enabled us to predict ZEB1 as a key molecule governed by Gα12. Decreases of miR-200a/b, -192 and -215 by Gα12 caused ZEB1 induction. The ability of Gα12 to decrease p53 levels, as a result of activating protein-1 (AP-1)/c-Jun-mediated mouse double minute 2 homolog induction, contributed to transcriptional deregulation of the miRNAs. Gα12QL induced ZEB1 and other epithelial-mesenchymal transition markers with fibroblastoid phenotype change. Consistently, transfection with miR-200b, -192 or -215 mimic prevented the ability of Gα12QL to increase tumor cell migration/invasion. In xenograft studies, sustained knockdown of Gα12 decreased the overall growth rate and average volume of tumors derived from SK-Hep1 cell (mesenchymal-typed). In HCC patients, miR-192, -215 and/or -200a were deregulated with microvascular invasion or growth advantage. In the HCC samples with higher Gα12 level, a correlation existed in the comparison of relative changes of Gα12 and ZEB1. In conclusion, Gα12 overexpressed in HCC causes ZEB1 induction by deregulating p53-responsive miRNAs, which may facilitate epithelial-mesenchymal transition and growth of liver tumor. These findings highlight the significance of Gα12 upregulation in liver tumor progression, implicating Gα12 as an attractive therapeutic target.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Chick Embryo
  • Disease Progression
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / genetics*
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, G12-G13 / genetics
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, G12-G13 / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Oncogenes / genetics
  • Oncogenes / physiology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / physiology*
  • Up-Regulation / genetics


  • MicroRNAs
  • TP53 protein, human
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • GTP-Binding Protein alpha Subunits, G12-G13