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J Biol Chem. 2011 Dec 9;286(49):42292-302. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.270926. Epub 2011 Oct 18.

Anti-microRNA-222 (anti-miR-222) and -181B suppress growth of tamoxifen-resistant xenografts in mouse by targeting TIMP3 protein and modulating mitogenic signal.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA.


We have shown earlier that miR-221 and -222 are up-regulated in tamoxifen-resistant MCF-7 (OHT(R)) cells and Her2-positive human breast tumors when compared with Her2 negative tumors. In this study, we report markedly enhanced expression of miR-181b in OHT(R) cells and endocrine-resistant tumors. Further, anti-miR-222 or -181b in combination with tamoxifen suppressed growth of tamoxifen-resistant xenografts in mice. Luciferase reporter assay and expression analysis showed that TIMP3, a tissue metalloproteinase inhibitor, is a common target of miR-221/222 and -181b. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemical analysis demonstrated reciprocal relationships between TIMP3 and miR-221/222/181b expression in primary human breast carcinomas. Ectopic expression of TIMP3 inhibited growth of the OHT(R) cells, and its depletion in MCF-7 cells reduced sensitivity to tamoxifen in vitro and in vivo. EGF-induced MAPK and AKT phosphorylation were significantly higher in OHT(R) cells and miR-221/222-overexpressing MCF-7 cells than in control cells, which suggests modulation of mitogenic signaling by TIMP3 and the miRs. On the contrary, phosphoMAPK and phosphoAKT levels were diminished in TIMP3-overexpressing OHT(R) cells and increased in TIMP3-depleted MCF-7 cells. Low levels of estrogen or tamoxifen elicited similar differences in phosphoMAPK levels in these cells. Reduced levels of TIMP3 facilitated growth of tamoxifen-resistant cells by alleviating its inhibitory effect on ADAM10 and ADAM17, which are critical for OHT(R) cell growth. In conclusion, miR-221/222 and -181b facilitate growth factor signaling in tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer by down-regulating TIMP3, and corresponding anti-miRs can be used to render these tumors responsive to tamoxifen.

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