Targeting miR-31 represses tumourigenesis and dedifferentiation of BRAFV600E-associated thyroid carcinoma

Clin Transl Med. 2024 May;14(5):e1694. doi: 10.1002/ctm2.1694.


Background: BRAFV600E is the most common genetic mutation in differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) occurring in 60% of patients and drives malignant tumour cell phenotypes including proliferation, metastasis and immune-escape. BRAFV600E-mutated papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) also displays greatly reduced expression of thyroid differentiation markers, thus tendency to radioactive iodine (RAI) refractory and poor prognosis. Therefore, understanding the molecular mechanisms and main oncogenic events underlying BRAFV600E will guide future therapy development.

Methods: Bioinformatics and clinical specimen analyses, genetic manipulation of BRAFV600E-induced PTC model, functional and mechanism exploration guided with transcriptomic screening, as well as systematic rescue experiments were applied to investigate miR-31 function within BRAFV600E-induced thyroid cancer development. Besides, nanoparticles carrying miR-31 antagomirs were testified to alleviate 131I iodide therapy on PTC models.

Results: We identify miR-31 as a significantly increased onco-miR in BRAFV600E-associated PTC that promotes tumour progression, metastasis and RAI refractoriness via sustained Wnt/β-catenin signalling. Mechanistically, highly activated BRAF/MAPK pathway induces miR-31 expression via c-Jun-mediated transcriptional regulation across in vitro and transgenic mouse models. MiR-31 in turn facilitates β-catenin stabilisation via directly repressing tumour suppressors CEBPA and DACH1, which direct the expression of multiple essential Wnt/β-catenin pathway inhibitors. Genetic functional assays showed that thyroid-specific knockout of miR-31 inhibited BRAFV600E-induced PTC progression, and strikingly, enhanced expression of sodium-iodide symporter and other thyroid differentiation markers, thus promoted 131I uptake. Nanoparticle-mediated application of anti-miR-31 antagomirs markedly elevated radio-sensitivity of BRAFV600E-induced PTC tumours to 131I therapy, and efficiently suppressed tumour progression in the pre-clinical mouse model.

Conclusions: Our findings elucidate a novel BRAF/MAPK-miR-31-Wnt/β-catenin regulatory mechanism underlying clinically BRAFV600E-associated DTC tumourigenesis and dedifferentiation, also highlight a potential adjuvant therapeutic strategy for advanced DTC.

Keywords: BRAFV600E; CEBPA; DACH1; Wnt/β‐catenin pathway; miR‐31; papillary thyroid carcinoma.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinogenesis / genetics
  • Cell Dedifferentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Dedifferentiation / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • MicroRNAs* / genetics
  • MicroRNAs* / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf* / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf* / metabolism
  • Thyroid Cancer, Papillary / genetics
  • Thyroid Cancer, Papillary / metabolism
  • Thyroid Cancer, Papillary / pathology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / pathology


  • BRAF protein, human
  • MicroRNAs
  • MIRN31 microRNA, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf
  • Braf protein, mouse
  • Mirn31 microRNA, mouse