miR-144-3p is aberrantly expressed in several types of human cancer and functions as a tumor suppressor by inhibiting metastasis. However, the clinical significance and biological function of miR-144-3p in colorectal adenocarcinoma (CRA) have yet to be elucidated. Here we reported that miR-144-3p expression level was significantly down-regulated in CRA tissues compared with matched noncancerous colorectal mucosae tissues. Low miR-144-3p expression was correlated with adverse clinicopathologic characteristics and poor prognosis of CRA patients. Cox regression analysis showed that low miR-144-3p expression was an independent risk factor for DFS and OS in CRA. In vitro and in vivo assays showed that miR-144-3p significantly inhibited proliferation, migration and invasion of CRA cells. In particular, miR-144-3p could suppress EMT process of CRA cells by regulating the cytoskeleton and EMT markers. Bioinformatics analysis indicated that EMT associated transcription factors ZEB1 and ZEB2 were potential targets of miR-144-3p, and miR-144-3p inhibited ZEB1 and ZEB2 expression and was negatively correlated with their expression in CRA. Finally, we confirmed that ZEB1 and ZEB2 down-regulation collaboratively mediated the inhibitory effect of miR-144-3p on proliferation, invasion and EMT of CRA cells. In conclusion, our study provided evidence that miR-144-3p could inhibit CRA cell proliferation, invasion and EMT by targeting ZEB1/2.
Keywords: ZEB1/2; colorectal cancer; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; metastasis; miR-144-3p.