Up to now, the molecular mechanisms underlying the stemness of prostate cancer stem cells (PCSCs) are still poorly understood. In this study, we demonstrated that microRNA-7 (miR-7) appears to be a novel tumor-suppressor miRNA, which abrogates the stemness of PCSCs and inhibits prostate tumorigenesis by suppressing a key stemness factor KLF4. MicroRNA-7 is down-regulated in prostate cancer cells compared to non-tumorigenic prostate epithelial cells. Restoration of miR-7 suppresses the expression of the stemness factor KLF4 in PCSCs and inhibits prostate tumorigenesis both in vitro and in vivo. Interestingly, the suppression of the stemness of PCSCs by miR-7 is sustained for generations in xenografts. Analysis of clinical samples also revealed a negative correlation between miR-7 expression and prostate tumor progression. Mechanistically, overexpression of miR-7 may lead to a cell cycle arrest but not apoptosis, which seems achieved via suppressing the KLF4/PI3K/Akt/p21 pathway. This study identifies miR-7 as a suppressor of PCSCs' stemness and implicates its potential application for PCa therapy.
Keywords: KLF4; PI3K/Akt pathway; cancer stem cells; miR-7; prostate cancer; tumorigenesis.