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PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e41523. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041523. Epub 2012 Aug 2.

MicroRNA-7 inhibits epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and metastasis of breast cancer cells via targeting FAK expression.

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Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at Microscale and School of Life Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, Anhui, PR China.


Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is an important mediator of extracellular matrix integrin signaling, cell motility, cell proliferation and cell survival. Increased FAK expression is observed in a variety of solid human tumors and increased FAK expression and activity frequently correlate with metastatic disease and poor prognosis. Herein we identify miR-7 as a direct regulator of FAK expression. miR-7 expression is decreased in malignant versus normal breast tissue and its expression correlates inversely with metastasis in human breast cancer patients. Forced expression of miR-7 produced increased E-CADHERIN and decreased FIBRONECTIN and VIMENTIN expression in breast cancer cells. The levels of miR-7 expression was positively correlated with E-CADHERIN mRNA and negatively correlated with VIMENTIN mRNA levels in breast cancer samples. Forced expression of miR-7 in aggressive breast cancer cell lines suppressed tumor cell monolayer proliferation, anchorage independent growth, three-dimensional growth in Matrigel, migration and invasion. Conversely, inhibition of miR-7 in the HBL-100 mammary epithelial cell line promoted cell proliferation and anchorage independent growth. Rescue of FAK expression reversed miR-7 suppression of migration and invasion. miR-7 also inhibited primary breast tumor development, local invasion and metastatic colonization of breast cancer xenografts. Thus, miR-7 expression is decreased in metastatic breast cancer, correlates with the level of epithelial differentiation of the tumor and inhibits metastatic progression.

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