MiR-221/222 promote epithelial-mesenchymal transition by targeting Notch3 in breast cancer cell lines

NPJ Breast Cancer. 2018 Aug 6;4:20. doi: 10.1038/s41523-018-0073-7. eCollection 2018.


Basal-like breast cancer (BLBC) is an aggressive subtype with a strong tendency to metastasize. Due to the lack of effective chemotherapy, BLBC has a poor prognosis compared with luminal subtype breast cancer. MicroRNA-221 and -222 (miR-221/222) are overexpressed in BLBC and associate with metastasis as well as poor prognosis; however, the mechanisms by which miR-221/222 function as oncomiRs remain unknown. Here, we report that miR-221/222 expression is inversely correlated with Notch3 expression in breast cancer cell lines. Notch3 is known to be overexpressed in luminal breast cancer cells and inhibits epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT). We demonstrate that miR-221/222 target Notch3 by binding to its 3' untranslated region and suppressing protein translation. Ectopic expression of miR-221/222 significantly promotes EMT, whereas overexpression of Notch3 intracellular domain attenuates the oncogenic function of miR-221/222, suggesting that miR-221/222 exerts its oncogenic role by negatively regulating Notch3. Taken together, our results elucidated that miR-221/222 promote EMT via targeting Notch3 in breast cancer cell lines suggesting that miR-221/222 can serve as a potential therapeutic target in BLBC.