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Carcinogenesis. 2011 Nov;32(11):1607-14. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgr184. Epub 2011 Aug 8.

Decreased microRNA-214 levels in breast cancer cells coincides with increased cell proliferation, invasion and accumulation of the Polycomb Ezh2 methyltransferase.

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  • 1Laboratory of Muscle Stem Cells and Gene Regulation, National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-8022, USA.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs, which regulate gene expression by inhibiting translation or promoting degradation of specific target messenger RNAs (mRNAs). Alteration of the levels of a number of miRNAs is common in solid and hematological tumors. We have shown previously that miR-214 regulates Ezh2 in skeletal muscle and embryonic stem cells. The current study was aimed at examining the role of miR-214 in breast cancer where miR-214 levels are reduced but whether this phenomenon bears a functional relevance is unknown. MiR-214 expression was inversely correlated with Ezh2 mRNA and protein levels in breast cancer cell lines and at least one copy of the miR-214 alleles was found to be deleted in 24% (6/25) of primary breast tumors. Experimental increase of miR-214 in breast cancer cell lines correlated with reduction of Ezh2 protein levels, a known marker of invasion and aggressive breast cancer behavior. Supporting a direct targeting mechanism, miR-214 decreased luciferase activity from a construct containing the Ezh2 3' untranslated region. Expression of miR-214 specifically reduced cell proliferation of breast cancer cells and inhibited the invasive potential of a highly metastatic breast cancer cell line. These findings indicate that reduced miR-214 levels may contribute to breast tumorigenesis by allowing abnormally elevated Ezh2 accumulation and subsequent unchecked cell proliferation and invasion.

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