Dysregulation of microRNA (miRNA) biogenesis is implicated in cancer development and progression. Dicer and Drosha are established regulators of miRNA biogenesis. In this study, we used a miRNA array to evaluate the miRNA expression profiles in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) samples. The significance analysis of microarrays showed a global downregulation of miRNA expression in NPC samples compared with normal nasopharyngeal epithelial tissues. Notably, miR-18a, a member of the oncogenic miR-17-92 cluster, was upregulated in the NPC samples and ell lines. Clinical parameter studies showed that higher levels of miR-18a correlated with NPC advanced stage, lymph node metastasis, Epstein-Barr virus infection and a higher death rate from NPC, indicating oncogenic roles in NPC development. The expression levels of miR-18a and Dicer1 were inversely related in NPC tissues. Further studies demonstrated that miR-18a negatively regulated Dicer1 by binding to the 3' untranslated regions of Dicer1. In vitro and in vivo biological function assays showed that miR-18a promoted the growth, migration and invasion of NPC cells by regulating Dicer1 expression, which caused the global downregulation of miRNA expression levels including miR-200 family and miR-143. Furthermore, we found that the epithelial mesenchymal transition marker E-cadherin and the oncogene K-Ras were aberrantly expressed after miR-18a transduction, and these alterations were directly induced by downregulation of the miR-200 family and miR-143. Collectively, our findings indicate that miR-18a plays an oncogenic role in the development of NPC by widespread downregulation of the miRNome and could be a potential therapeutic target for NPC.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
National Natural Science Foundation, China (81272255, 81000882, 91229122, 81172189); National Training and Research Base for Talents of Principles of Carcinogenesis Foundation (111 project: 111-2-12); Hunan Natural Science Foundation (10JJ7003).