Hypoxia and dysregulation of microRNAs (miRNAs) have been identified as crucial factors in carcinogenesis. However, the potential mechanisms of HIF-1α and miR-421 in gastric cancer have not been well elucidated. In this study, we found that miR-421 was up-regulated by HIF-1α. Overexpression of miR-421 promoted metastasis, inhibited apoptosis, and induced cisplatin resistance in gastric cancer in vivo and in vitro. E-cadherin and caspase-3 were identified as targets of miR-421. Besides, relative mRNA expression of miR-421 was significantly increased in gastric cancer tumor tissues compared with non-tumor tissues in a cohort of gastric cancer specimens (n=107). The expression of miR-421 was higher in advanced gastric cancers compared with localized ones. Moreover, Kaplan-Meier analysis illustrated that those patients with low levels of miR-421 had a significant longer overall survival (p = 0.006) and time to relapse (p = 0.007). Therefore, miR-421 could serve as an important prognostic marker and a potential molecular target for therapy in gastric cancer.
Keywords: HIF-1α; cisplatin resistance; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; gastric cancer; miR-421.