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J Biol Chem. 2011 Nov 11;286(45):39172-8. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.285098. Epub 2011 Sep 22.

MicroRNA miR-21 regulates the metastatic behavior of B16 melanoma cells.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, Tennessee 38163, USA.


MicroRNA-21 (miR-21) is overexpressed in many human tumors and has been linked to various cellular processes altered in cancer. miR-21 is also up-regulated by a number of inflammatory agents, including IFN, which is of particular interest considering the close relationship between inflammation and cancer. Because miR-21 appears to be overexpressed in human melanoma, we examined the role of miR-21 in cancer development and metastasis in B16 mouse melanoma cells. We found that miR-21 is a member of an IFN-induced miRNA subset that requires STAT3 activation. To characterize the role of miR-21 in melanoma behavior, we transduced B16 cells with lentivirus encoding a miR-21 antagomir and isolated miR-21 knockdown B16 cells. miR-21 knockdown or IFN treatment alone inhibited B16 cell proliferation and migration in vitro, and in combination they had an enhanced effect. Moreover, miR-21 knockdown sensitized B16 cells to IFN-induced apoptosis. In B16 cells miR-21 targeted tumor suppressor (PTEN and PDCD4) and antiproliferative (BTG2) proteins. To characterize the role of miR-21 in vivo, empty vector- and antagomiR-21-transduced B16 melanoma cells were injected via tail vein into syngeneic C57BL/6 mice. Although empty vector-transduced B16 cells produced large lung metastases, miR-21 knockdown cells only formed small lung lesions. Importantly, miR-21 knockdown tumor-bearing mice exhibited prolonged survival compared with empty vector tumor-bearing mice. Thus, miR-21 regulates the metastatic behavior of B16 melanoma cells by promoting cell proliferation, survival, and migration/invasion as well as by suppressing IFN action, providing important new insights into the role of miR-21 in melanoma.

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