Molecular cancer 2018 01 1917(1) 11 doi 10.1186/s12943-017-0751-3
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a severe health problem worldwide. Clarifying the mechanisms for the deregulation of oncogenes and tumour suppressors in CRC is vital for its diagnosis, treatment, prognosis and prevention. Hu antigen R (HuR), which is highly upregulated in CRC, functions as a pivotal oncogene to promote CRC progression. However, the underlying cause of its dysregulation is poorly understood.
In CRC tissue sample pairs, HuR protein levels were measured by Western blot and immunohistochemical (IHC) staining, respectively. HuR mRNA levels were also monitored by qRT-PCR. Combining meta-analysis and microRNA (miRNA) target prediction software, we predicted miRNAs that targeted HuR. Pull-down assay, Western blot and luciferase assay were utilized to demonstrate the direct binding of miR-22 on HuR’s 3′-UTR. The biological effects of HuR and miR-22 were investigated both in vitro by CCK-8, EdU and Transwell assays and in vivo by a xenograft mice model. JASPAR and SABiosciences were used to predict transcriptional factors that could affect miR-22. Luciferase assay was used to explore the validity of putative Jun binding sites for miR-22 regulation. ChIP assay was performed to test the Jun’s occupancy on the C17orf91 promoter.
We observed a significant upregulation of HuR in CRC tissue pairs and confirmed the oncogenic function of HuR both in vitro and in vivo. We found that an important tumour-suppressive miRNA, miR-22, was significantly downregulated in CRC tissues and inversely correlated with HuR in both CRC tissues and CRC cell lines. We demonstrated that miR-22 directly bound to the 3′-UTR of HuR and led to inhibition of HuR protein, which repressed CRC proliferation and migration in vitro and decelerated CRC xenografted tumour growth in vivo. Furthermore, we found that the onco-transcription factor Jun could inhibit the transcription of miR-22.
Our findings highlight the critical roles of the Jun/miR-22/HuR regulatory axis in CRC progression and may provide attractive potential targets for CRC prevention and treatment.