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FEBS J. 2012 Jun;279(11):2047-59. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-4658.2012.08589.x. Epub 2012 Apr 24.

MicroRNA-199a targets CD44 to suppress the tumorigenicity and multidrug resistance of ovarian cancer-initiating cells.

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  • 1International Peace Maternity and Child Health Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University, China.


In ovarian cancer, CD44(+) /CD117(+) stem cells, also known as cancer-initiating cells (CICs), are highly proliferative, have a low degree of differentiation, and are resistant to chemotherapeutics. Therefore, the CD44(+) /CD117(+) subpopulation is thought to be an important target for novel therapeutic strategies. In this study, we investigated the role of microRNA-199a (miR-199a) in ovarian cancer stem cells. Luciferase reporter gene assays confirmed that miR-199a targets CD44 via an miR-199a-binding site in the 3'-UTR. CD44(+) /CD117(+) ovarian CICs were enriched from human primary ovarian tumor tissues and confirmed by flow cytometric sorting. miR-199a was cloned and transfected into ovarian CICs. CD44 mRNA and protein expression was significantly decreased in miR-199a-transfected ovarian CICs as compared with miR-199a mutant-transfected and untransfected cells. Cell cycle analysis, 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl-tetrazolium bromide proliferation assays, the colony formation assay and the transwell migration assay indicated that miR-199a significantly affected cell cycle regulation and suppressed the proliferation and invasive capacity of ovarian CICs in vitro. miR-199a significantly increased the chemosensitivity of ovarian CICs to cisplatin, pacitaxel, and adriamycin, and reduced mRNA expression of the multidrug resistance gene ABCG2 as compared with miR-199a mutant-transfected and untransfected cells. The expression of stemness markers was also significantly reduced in miR-199a-transfected CICs as compared with miR-199a mutant-transfected and untransfected ovarian cells. Furthermore, xenograft experiments confirmed that miR-199a suppressed the growth of xenograft tumors formed by ovarian CICs in vivo. Thus, expression of endogenous mature miR-199a may prevent tumorigenesis in human ovarian cancer by regulating expression of its target gene CD44.

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