MicroRNA-31 controls G protein alpha-13 (GNA13) expression and cell invasion in breast cancer cells

Mol Cancer. 2015 Mar 26:14:67. doi: 10.1186/s12943-015-0337-x.


Background: Gα13 (GNA13) is the α subunit of a heterotrimeric G protein that mediates signaling through specific G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Our recent study showed that control of GNA13 expression by specific microRNAs (miRNAs or miRs) is important for prostate cancer cell invasion. However, little is known about the control of GNA13 expression in breast cancers. This project was carried out to determine (i) whether enhanced GNA13 expression is important for breast cancer cell invasion, and (ii) if so, the mechanism of deregulation of GNA13 expression in breast cancers.

Methods: To determine the probable miRNAs regulating GNA13, online miRNA target prediction tool Targetscan and Luciferase assays with GNA13-3'-UTR were used. Effect of miRNAs on GNA13 mRNA, protein and invasion was studied using RT-PCR, western blotting and in vitro Boyden chamber assay respectively. Cell proliferation was done using MTT assays.

Results: Overexpression of GNA13 in MCF-10a cells induced invasion, whereas knockdown of GNA13 expression in MDA-MB-231 cells inhibited invasion. Expression analysis of miRNAs predicted to bind the 3'-UTR of GNA13 revealed that miR-31 exhibited an inverse correlation to GNA13 protein expression in breast cancer cells. Ectopic expression of miR-31 in MDA-MB-231 cells significantly reduced GNA13 mRNA and protein levels, as well as GNA13-3'-UTR-reporter activity. Conversely, blocking miR-31 activity in MCF-10a cells induced GNA13 mRNA, protein and 3'-UTR reporter activity. Further, expression of miR-31 significantly inhibited MDA-MB-231 cell invasion, and this effect was partly rescued by ectopic expression of GNA13 in these cells. Examination of 48 human breast cancer tissues revealed that GNA13 mRNA levels were inversely correlated to miR-31 levels.

Conclusions: These data provide strong evidence that GNA13 expression in breast cancer cells is regulated by post-transcriptional mechanisms involving miR-31. Additionally our data shows that miR-31 regulates breast cancer cell invasion partially via targeting GNA13 expression in breast cancer cells. Loss of miR-31 expression and increased GNA13 expression could be used as biomarkers of breast cancer progression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3' Untranslated Regions / genetics
  • Activating Transcription Factor 6
  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Breast / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / genetics
  • Cell Proliferation / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics*
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / genetics*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics


  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • ATF6B protein, human
  • Activating Transcription Factor 6
  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MIRN31 microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Messenger