Down-regulation of miR-223 reverses epithelial-mesenchymal transition in gemcitabine-resistant pancreatic cancer cells

Oncotarget. 2015 Jan 30;6(3):1740-9. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.2714.


Recent studies have demonstrated that acquisition of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is associated with drug resistance in pancreatic cancer cells; however, the underlying mechanisms are not fully elucidated. Emerging evidence suggests that microRNAs play a crucial role in controlling EMT. The aims of this study were to explore the potential role of miR-223 in governing EMT in gemcitabine-resistant (GR) pancreatic cancer cells. To achieve this goal, real-time reverse transcription-PCR and western blot analysis were used to validate whether GR cells acquired EMT in AsPC-1 and PANC-1 cells. Invasion, migration, and detachment assays were performed to further identify the EMT characteristics in GR cells. The miR-223 inhibitor was used to determine its role in GR-induced EMT. We found that GR cells acquired EMT features, which obtained elongated fibroblastoid morphology, decreased expression of epithelial marker E-cadherin, and up-regulation of mesenchymal markers. Furthermore, we observed that GR cells are associated with high expression of miR-223. Notably, inhibition of miR-223 led to the reversal of EMT phenotype. More importantly, miR-223 governs GR-induced EMT in part due to down-regulation of its target Fbw7 and subsequent upregulation of Notch-1 in pancreatic cancer. Our study implied that down-regulation of miR-223 could be a novel therapy for pancreatic cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Deoxycytidine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Deoxycytidine / pharmacology
  • Down-Regulation
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / drug effects
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / genetics
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • MIRN223 microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs
  • Deoxycytidine
  • gemcitabine