miR-503-3p promotes epithelial-mesenchymal transition in breast cancer by directly targeting SMAD2 and E-cadherin

J Genet Genomics. 2017 Feb 20;44(2):75-84. doi: 10.1016/j.jgg.2016.10.005. Epub 2016 Nov 1.


Although progress in clinical and basic research has significantly increased our understanding of breast cancer, little is known about the molecular mechanism underlying breast cancer metastasis. Identification of effective therapeutic targets to prevent breast cancer metastasis is urgently needed. The function of miR-503-3p has been investigated in other cancers, but its role in breast cancer remains undefined. Here, we found that miR-503-3p was overexpressed in breast cancer tissue and plasma compared with adjacent normal breast tissue and with plasma from healthy individuals. Moreover, we identified miR-503-3p to be an oncogene of breast cancer cell proliferation, migration and invasion. Upregulation of miR-503-3p in breast cancer cells inhibited expression of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-related protein SMAD2 and the epithelial marker protein E-cadherin by directly binding to their mRNA 3' untranslated region, whereas increased expression of mesenchymal marker proteins, including vimentin and N-cadherin. Taken together, our findings support a critical role for miR-503-3p in induction of breast cancer EMT and suggest that plasma miR-503-3p may be a useful diagnostic biomarker for breast cancer.

Keywords: Breast cancer; E-cadherin; Plasma miRNA; SMAD2; miR-503-3p.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cadherins / genetics*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / genetics
  • Cell Proliferation / genetics
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Phenotype
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Smad2 Protein / genetics*
  • Up-Regulation / genetics


  • Cadherins
  • MIRN503 microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs
  • SMAD2 protein, human
  • Smad2 Protein