Reduction of miR-744 delivered by NSCLC cell-derived extracellular vesicles upregulates SUV39H1 to promote NSCLC progression via activation of the Smad9/BMP9 axis

J Transl Med. 2021 Jan 20;19(1):37. doi: 10.1186/s12967-020-02654-9.


Background: Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is a common type of lung cancer. Extracellular vehicles (EVs) are nano-sized particles containing proteins, lipids, and miRNAs secreted by various cells, which play important roles in the development of lung cancer by regulating a wide range of signaling pathways. This study focused on elucidating a potential mechanism by which EVs promote the development of NSCLC.

Methods: Expression levels of miR-744, SUV39H1, Smad9, and BMP4 in clinical tissue samples of NSCLC patients and cell lines were quantified by RT-qPCR and/or western blot analysis. The interaction between SUV39H1 and miR-744 was identified by dual-luciferase reporter assay. miR-744, SUV39H1, and BMP4 expression levels were modulated in A549 and H460 cells, in order to evaluate their effects on cell proliferation, colony formation and cell cycle. A NSCLC xenograft mouse model was used to verify the in vitro findings. NSCLC cell-derived EVs and normal bronchial epithelial cell-derived EVs were isolated and their roles in NSCLC development were evaluated in vivo and in vitro.

Results: miR-744 expression was lower in cancer cell-derived derived EVs than in normal lung epithelial cell-derived EVs. Reduced miR-744 expression in EVs upregulated SUV39H1 in NSCLC cells and further increased BMP4 levels to promote NSCLC development. BMP4 was upregulated in NSCLC cells upon suppression of Smad9 mediated by SUV39H1. Reduced miR-744 expression transferred from cancer cell-derived EVs into NSCLC cells enhanced cancer development.

Conclusion: Overall, our findings unveiled a mechanism whereby miR-744 delivered by NSCLC-derived EVs upregulated SUV39H1, activating the Smad9/BMP9 axis and thus promoted cancer development.

Keywords: BMP4; NSCLC; SUV39H1; Smad9; miR-744.