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PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e47053. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047053. Epub 2012 Oct 8.

MiR-122 inhibits cell proliferation and tumorigenesis of breast cancer by targeting IGF1R.

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Department of Medical Oncology, Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center, Department of Oncology, Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, China.


miRNAs are emerging as critical regulators in carcinogenesis and tumor progression. Recently, microRNA-122 (miR-122) has been proved to play an important role in hepatocellular carcinoma, but its functions in the context of breast cancer (BC) remain unknown. In this study, we report that miR-122 is commonly downregulated in BC specimens and BC cell lines with important functional consequences. Overexpression of miR-122 not only dramatically suppressed cell proliferation, colony formation by inducing G1-phase cell-cycle arrest in vitro, but also reduced tumorigenicity in vivo. We then screened and identified a novel miR-122 target, insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R), and it was further confirmed by luciferase assay. Overexpression of miR-122 would specifically and markedly reduce its expression. Similar to the restoring miR-122 expression, IGF1R downregulation suppressed cell growth and cell-cycle progression, whereas IGF1R overexpression rescued the suppressive effect of miR-122. To identify the mechanisms, we investigated the Akt/mTOR/p70S6K pathway and found that the expression of Akt, mTOR and p70S6K were suppressed, whereas re-expression of IGF1R which did not contain the 3'UTR totally reversed the inhibition of Akt/mTOR/p70S6K signal pathway profile. We also identified a novel, putative miR-122 target gene, PI3CG, a member of PI3K family, which further suggests miR-122 may be a key regulator of the PI3K/Akt pathway. In clinical specimens, IGF1R was widely overexpressed and its mRNA levels were inversely correlated with miR-122 expression. Taken together, our results demonstrate that miR-122 functions as a tumor suppressor and plays an important role in inhibiting the tumorigenesis through targeting IGF1R and regulating PI3K/Akt/mTOR/p70S6K pathway. Given these, miR-122 may serve as a novel therapeutic or diagnostic/prognostic-target for treating BC.

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