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J Biol Chem. 2012 Aug 24;287(35):29516-28. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.335943. Epub 2012 Jul 2.

MicroRNA-9 inhibition of cell proliferation and identification of novel miR-9 targets by transcriptome profiling in breast cancer cells.

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Genetics and Biotechnology Laboratory, Centre for Chromosome Biology, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland.


Although underexpression of miR-9 in cancer cells is reported in many cancer types, it is currently difficult to classify miR-9 as a tumor suppressor or an oncomir. We demonstrate that miR-9 expression is down-regulated in MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells compared with MCF-10-2A normal breast cell line. Increasing miR-9 expression levels in breast cancer cells induced anti-proliferative, anti-invasive, and pro-apoptotic activity. In addition, microarray profiling of the transcriptome of MCF-7 cells overexpressing miR-9 identified six novel direct miR-9 targets (AP3B1, CCNG1, LARP1, MTHFD1L, MTHFD2, and SRPK1). Among these, MTHFD2 was identified as a miR-9 target gene that affects cell proliferation. Knockdown of MTHFD2 mimicked the effect observed when miR-9 was overexpressed by decreasing cell viability and increasing apoptotic activity. Despite variable effects on different cell lines, proliferative and anti-apoptotic activity of MTHFD2 was demonstrated whereby it could escape from miR-9-directed suppression (by overexpression of MTHFD2 with mutated miR-9 binding sites). Furthermore, endogenous expression levels of miR-9 and MTHFD2 displayed inverse expression profiles in primary breast tumor samples compared with normal breast samples; miR-9 was down-regulated, and MTHFD2 was up-regulated. These results indicate anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic activity of miR-9 and that direct targeting of MTHFD2 can contribute to tumor suppressor-like activity of miR-9 in breast cancer cells.

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