Glutamate metabotropic receptor 4 (GRM4) inhibits cell proliferation, migration and invasion in breast cancer and is regulated by miR-328-3p and miR-370-3p

BMC Cancer. 2019 Sep 6;19(1):891. doi: 10.1186/s12885-019-6068-4.


Background: Glutamate metabotropic receptors (GRM) play a variety of roles in neuronal cells. However, their clinical significance and biological functions in breast cancer remain unknown.

Methods: RNA sequencing data of breast cancer was obtained from the TCGA dataset (v2) and mined for the expression profiles of GRM family according to cancer subtypes. mRNA expression of GRM family in breast cancer tissues and para-cancerous tissue samples as well as breast cancer cell lines were measured by qPCR. The effects of over- and under-expression of GRM4 on cell capabilities to survive, migrate and invade were determined by colony formation, transwell migration and invasion assays. To explore the upstream regulation pattern of GRM4, miRNAs that target GRM4 were predicted and validated by dual luciferase reporter assay. In addition, the mRNA and protein expression of GRM4 regulated by these miRNAs were further measured by qPCR and western blot assay.

Results: GRM4 was the only GRM member that expressed in breast cancer tissues. Ectopic expression of GRM4 was correlated with better prognosis of breast cancer patients. Overexpression of GRM4 could significantly inhibit cell proliferation, migration and invasion capacity in MDA-MB-231, while knockdown of GRM4 could promote these processes. miR-328-3p and miR-370-3p were predicted to regulate the expression of GRM4 and dual luciferase reporter assay demonstrated that miR-328-3p and miR-370-3p directly bound to the 3' UTR of GRM4 and mutations on the binding regions on GRM4 significantly decreased the luciferase activity. qPCR demonstrated that expression of miR-328-3p and miR-370-3p was significantly decreased in breast cancer tissues and cells compared with that in control samples. However, there were no correlations between the expression of miR-328-3p and GRM4, as well as the expression of miR-370-3p and GRM4. Moreover, overexpression of miR-328-3p and miR-370-3p counteracted the inhibitory effect of GRM4-induced cell proliferation, migration and invasion.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that GRM4 might be a tumor suppressor gene in breast cancer under the direct regulation of miR-328-3p and miR-370-3p.

Keywords: Breast cancer; GRM4; Proliferation; miR-328-3p; miR-370-3p.

MeSH terms

  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • Binding Sites
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics*
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Prognosis
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / genetics*
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / metabolism*


  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MIRN328 microRNA, human
  • MIRN370 microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate
  • metabotropic glutamate receptor 4