The female mammary gland is a very dynamic organ that undergoes continuous tissue remodeling during adulthood. Although it is well established that the number of menstrual cycles and pregnancy (in this case transiently) increase the risk of breast cancer, the reasons are unclear. Growing clinical and experimental evidence indicates that improper involution plays a role in the development of this malignancy. Recently, we described the miR-424(322)/503 cluster as an important regulator of mammary epithelial involution after pregnancy. Here, through the analysis of ∼3000 primary tumors, we show that miR-424(322)/503 is commonly lost in a subset of aggressive breast cancers and describe the genetic aberrations that inactivate its expression. Furthermore, through the use of a knockout mouse model, we demonstrate for the first time that loss of miR-424(322)/503 promotes breast tumorigenesis in vivo. Remarkably, we found that loss of miR-424(322)/503 promotes chemoresistance due to the up-regulation of two of its targets: BCL-2 and insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF1R). Importantly, targeted therapies blocking the aberrant activity of these targets restore sensitivity to chemotherapy. Overall, our studies reveal miR-424(322)/503 as a tumor suppressor in breast cancer and provide a link between mammary epithelial involution, tumorigenesis, and the phenomenon of chemoresistance.
Keywords: breast cancer; chemoresistance; microRNA; tumor suppressor.
© 2017 Rodriguez-Barrueco et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.