MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs that exert their functions by targeting specific mRNA sequences. Many studies have demonstrated that miRNAs are crucial for cancer progression, during which they can act as either oncogenes or tumor suppressors. Previous research has shown that miR-335 is downregulated in breast cancer, and it has been shown to be a breast cancer suppressor. In addition, emerging evidence indicates that erythropoietin-producing hepatocellular A4 (EphA4) is implicated in cancer cell proliferation, migration, and invasion. However, little is known about the relationship between miR-335 and EphA4 in breast cancer. In the present study, we used bioinformatic and biochemical analyses to demonstrate that EphA4 is a direct downstream target of miR-335 in human breast cancer MCF-7 and MDA-MB-23 cells and revealed that miR-335 negatively regulates the expression of EphA4 in these cells. Further investigation revealed that miR-335 overexpression inhibits MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cell proliferation and that this inhibition is attenuated by EphA4 coexpression. Similarly, miR-335 overexpression also inhibited growth and downregulated EphA4 expression in tumors in nude mice. Moreover, our results demonstrated that miR-335 overexpression suppresses migration and invasion in MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells, an effect that was reversed by EphA4 overexpression. These findings confirmed that EphA4 is a direct target gene of miR-335 and that miR-335 suppresses breast cancer cell proliferation and motility in part by directly inhibiting EphA4 expression.
Keywords: Breast cancer; EphA4; Metastasis; Proliferation; miR-335.