Tumor-derived miR-6794-5p enhances cancer growth by promoting M2 macrophage polarization

Cell Commun Signal. 2024 Mar 23;22(1):190. doi: 10.1186/s12964-024-01570-5.


Background: Solid tumors promote tumor malignancy through interaction with the tumor microenvironment, resulting in difficulties in tumor treatment. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the communication between cells in the tumor and the surrounding microenvironment. Our previous study revealed the cancer malignancy mechanism of Bcl-w overexpressed in solid tumors, but no study was conducted on its relationship with immune cells in the tumor microenvironment. In this study, we sought to discover key factors in exosomes secreted from tumors overexpressing Bcl-w and analyze the interaction with the surrounding tumor microenvironment to identify the causes of tumor malignancy.

Methods: To analyze factors affecting the tumor microenvironment, a miRNA array was performed using exosomes derived from cancer cells overexpressing Bcl-w. The discovered miRNA, miR-6794-5p, was overexpressed and the tumorigenicity mechanism was confirmed using qRT-PCR, Western blot, invasion, wound healing, and sphere formation ability analysis. In addition, luciferase activity and Ago2-RNA immunoprecipitation assays were used to study the mechanism between miR-6794-5p and its target gene SOCS1. To confirm the interaction between macrophages and tumor-derived miR-6794-5p, co-culture was performed using conditioned media. Additionally, immunohistochemical (IHC) staining and flow cytometry were performed to analyze macrophages in the tumor tissues of experimental animals.

Results: MiR-6794-5p, which is highly expressed in exosomes secreted from Bcl-w-overexpressing cells, was selected, and it was shown that the overexpression of miR-6794-5p increased migratory ability, invasiveness, and stemness maintenance by suppressing the expression of the tumor suppressor SOCS1. Additionally, tumor-derived miR-6794-5p was delivered to THP-1-derived macrophages and induced M2 polarization by activating the JAK1/STAT3 pathway. Moreover, IL-10 secreted from M2 macrophages increased tumorigenicity by creating an immunosuppressive environment. The in vitro results were reconfirmed by confirming an increase in M2 macrophages and a decrease in M1 macrophages and CD8+ T cells when overexpressing miR-6794-5p in an animal model.

Conclusions: In this study, we identified changes in the tumor microenvironment caused by miR-6794-5p. Our study indicates that tumor-derived miR-6794-5p promotes tumor aggressiveness by inducing an immunosuppressive environment through interaction with macrophage.

Keywords: Exosomal miR-6794-5p; IL-10; Macrophage M2 polarization; SOCS1; Tumor malignancy; Tumor microenvironment.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Assay
  • Biological Transport
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes
  • Exosomes*
  • MicroRNAs* / genetics
  • Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • MicroRNAs