The miR-19b-3p-MAP2K3-STAT3 feedback loop regulates cell proliferation and invasion in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma

Mol Oncol. 2021 Mar 3. doi: 10.1002/1878-0261.12934. Online ahead of print.


Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is one of the most refractory malignancies worldwide. Mitogen-activated protein kinase 3 (MAP2K3) has a contradictory role in tumor progression, and the function and expression patterns of MAP2K3 in ESCC remain to be determined. We found that MAP2K3 expression to be downregulated in ESCC, and MAP2K3 downregulation correlated with clinically poor survival. MAP2K3 inhibited ESCC cell proliferation and invasion in vitro and in vivo. MAP2K3 suppressed STAT3 expression and activation. Mechanistically, MAPSK3 interacted with MDM2 to promote STAT3 degradation via the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. Furthermore, exosomal miR-19b-3p derived from the plasma of patients with ESCC could suppress MAP2K3 expression to promote ESCC tumorigenesis. STAT3 was found to bind to the MIR19B promoter and increased the expression of miR-19b-3p in ESCC cells. In summary, our results demonstrated that the miR-19b-3p-MAP2K3-STAT3 feedback loop regulates ESCC tumorigenesis and elucidates the potential of therapeutically targeting this pathway in ESCC.

Keywords: MAP2K3; MDM2; STAT3; miR-19b-3p.