Send to

Choose Destination
BMC Cancer. 2013 Oct 10;13:469. doi: 10.1186/1471-2407-13-469.

MicroRNA-21 promotes hepatocellular carcinoma HepG2 cell proliferation through repression of mitogen-activated protein kinase-kinase 3.

Author information

General Hospital of Ningxia Medical University, Yinchuan 750004, China.



microRNA 21 (miR-21) has been demonstrated to be significantly elevated in many types of cancers, including the hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In the present study, we investigated the role of miR-21 in HCC by identifying its novel targets, as well as its underlying molecular mechanism.


The expression of mitogen-activated protein kinase-kinase 3 (MAP2K3) in human HCC tumor tissues and adjacent non-tumor tissues was determined by immunohistochemistry staining (IHC) analysis. The 3'-untranslated region (3'-UTR) of MAP2K3 combined with miR-21 was experimentally verified by a miRNA luciferase reporter approach. Moreover, the role of miR-21 in regulating HCC cell proliferation was analyzed by an MTT assay infected with miR-21mimics/sponge inhibitor Adenoviral viral vectors.


By immunohistochemistry staining analysis, we found that mitogen-activated protein kinase-kinase 3 (MAP2K3) was strikingly repressed in the human HCC tumor tissues, in comparison with the adjacent non-tumor tissues in clinical settings. More importantly, the repression of MAP2K3 was inversely correlated with the expression of miR-21 in HCC. Further study demonstrated that the MAP2K3 was a novel direct target of miR-21, which was experimentally validated by a miRNA luciferase reporter approach. In HepG2 cells, inhibition of miR-21 expression with an adenoviral miR-21 sponge vector profoundly suppressed cell proliferation by up-regulating MAP2K3 expression at both mRNA and protein levels.


These results provide a clinical evidence that MAP2K3 may be a tumor repressor gene, and it is a direct target of miR-21 in HCC, indicating an underlying mechanism by which miR-21 is able to directly target MAP2K3 and inhibit its expression during the carcinogenesis of HCC, at both transcriptional and post-translational levels. This study also suggests that targeting miR-21-MAP2K3 pathway may be a promising strategy in the prevention and treatment of HCC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for BioMed Central Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center