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Int J Cancer. 2011 Nov 1;129(9):2134-46. doi: 10.1002/ijc.25874. Epub 2011 Mar 11.

Polo-like kinase 1 regulates cell proliferation and is targeted by miR-593* in esophageal cancer.

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  • 1Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine and Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.


Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) is overexpressed in various human cancers. However, the biological functions and the post-transcriptional regulations of PLK1 in esophageal cancer (EC) are still unknown. The purposes of our study are to determine whether PLK1 can be a molecular target of EC therapy and to identify a microRNA (miRNA) targeting PLK1. We performed loss-of-function and gain-of-function experiments regarding cell proliferation, cell cycle, apoptosis, in vivo tumor formation and luciferase reporter assays, using siRNAs against PLK1 and miRNA. PLK1 protein was expressed in all 11 EC cell lines, but not in normal esophageal epithelial cells (HEEpiC). Knockdown of PLK1 in EC cells induced G2/M arrest (p < 0.001) in cell cycle assay and reduced cell proliferation (p = 0.019) and tumor formation ability in vivo (p < 0.0001). MiR-593*, identified as a miRNA targeting PLK1 by a database search, was less expressed especially in six EC cell lines than HEEpiC cells. Moreover, miR-593* expression level was inversely correlated with PLK1 mRNA level in 48 clinical tissue specimens of EC (p = 0.006). Introduction of synthetic miR-593* suppressed PLK1 expression by 69-73%, reduced cell proliferation (p = 0.008) and increased cell proportion of G2/M phase (p = 0.01) in HSA/c (an EC cells), whereas a miR-593* inhibitor upregulated PLK1 expression by 11-55%. Additionally, luciferase assay demonstrated that miR-593* interacted two binding sites in the PLK1 3'-UTR and reduced 56.8-71.5% of luciferase activity by degrading luciferase mRNA in HSA/c cells. In conclusion, PLK1 is post-transcriptionally regulated by miR-593* and could be a promising molecular target for EC treatment.

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