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J Biol Chem. 2009 Jul 3;284(27):18515-24. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.006676. Epub 2009 May 6.

Up-regulation of miR-21 by HER2/neu signaling promotes cell invasion.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.


The cell surface receptor tyrosine kinase HER2/neu enhances tumor metastasis. Recent studies suggest that deregulated microRNA (miRNA) expression promotes invasion and metastasis of cancer cells; we therefore explored the possibility that HER2/neu signaling induces the expression of specific miRNAs involved in this process. We identified a putative oncogenic miRNA, miR-21, whose expression is correlated with HER2/neu up-regulation and is functionally involved in HER2/neu-induced cell invasion. We show that miR-21 is up-regulated via the MAPK (ERK1/2) pathway upon stimulation of HER2/neu signaling in breast cancer cells, and overexpression of other ERK1/2 activators such as RASV12 or ID-1 is sufficient to induce miR-21 up-regulation in HER2/neu-negative breast cancer cells. Furthermore, the metastasis suppressor protein PDCD4 (programmed cell death 4) is down-regulated by miR-21 in breast cancer cells expressing HER2/neu. Our data reveal a mechanism for HER2/neu-induced cancer cell invasion via miRNA deregulation. In addition, our results identify miR-21 as a potential therapeutic target for the prevention of breast cancer invasion and metastasis.

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