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Oncogene. 2012 May 10;31(19):2401-11. doi: 10.1038/onc.2011.423. Epub 2011 Sep 19.

Connective tissue growth factor modulates oral squamous cell carcinoma invasion by activating a miR-504/FOXP1 signalling.

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Institute of Clinical Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan.

Erratum in

  • Oncogene. 2013 Jan 31;32(5):670.


Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) is a multi-functional secreted protein, and it has been shown either to promote or suppress tumor progression among different kinds of cancers. Here, we investigated the role of CTGF in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) invasion and metastasis. In five OSCC cell lines, endogenous CTGF negatively correlated with invasiveness. Exogenous CTGF protein or forced expression of CTGF gene in the oral cancer cell line SAS significantly decreased their invasive and migratory abilities. MicroRNA (miRNA) microarray analysis was performed in CTGF-overexpressed SAS cells (SAS/CTGF-M3) versus control cells to investigate the mechanism of CTGF-mediated inhibition of OSCC invasion. Among the miRNAs regulated by CTGF, miR-504 and miR-346 were the top two miRNAs downregulated in CTGF transfectants, and the result was confirmed by quantitative reverse transcriptase-PCR. Ectopic miR-504 increased migration and invasion in SAS/CTGF-M3, however, miR-346 did not have such impact on migration/invasion. Furthermore, we identified FOXP1, a member of forkhead transcription factors, as a target gene that takes part in the miR-504-induced cellular invasion. Knockdown of FOXP1 increased invasiveness in SAS/CTGF-M3, confirming the signal axis of CTGF/miR-504/FOXP1 in OSCC. Animal experiments showed that SAS/CTGF-M3-formed orthotopic tumors were associated with a lesser invasive phenotype than control cells. Expression of miR-504 in SAS/CTGF-M3 increased lymph node metastasis, and co-expression of FOXP1 in miR-504-transfected SAS/CTGF-M3 alleviated miR-504-induced metastasis. In OSCC samples, high CTGF was associated with a lower clinical stage and a better outcome. A reverse correlation between CTGF and miR-504, miR-504 and FOXP1, and a positive correlation between CTGF and FOXP1 were shown. Our study discovers a novel signal pathway involving the regulation of miRNA machinery by a secreted cytokine, which will be beneficial for developing therapeutic strategy against advanced OSCC.

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