Background: Accumulating evidence indicates that dysregulation of human microRNAs could serve as diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), whereas miR-182-5p has not been explored in NPC. Our study aims to elucidate the biological function of miR-182-5p in NPC in vitro and in vivo and the potential molecular mechanism involved.
Methods: Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) was performed to determine miR-182-5p expression in NPC primary tissues and cell lines. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) for ZFP36L1 was conducted in NPC samples. Western blot was used to evaluate protein expression in cell lines. A series of functional assays were carried out to evaluate the roles of miR-182-5p and ZFP36L1 in tumor development and progression of NPC. Bioinformatics tools and luciferase reporter assays were utilized to identify the potential mechanisms of action. Moreover, rescue experiments were applied to explore whether ZFP36L1 mediated the effects of miR-182-5p in NPC.
Results: Up-regulation of miR-182-5p was significantly associated with tumor development and poor prognosis in patients with NPC. Functional study demonstrated that miR-182-5p overexpression enhanced, whereas suppression of miR-182-5p impeded NPC cell proliferation, migration, tumorigenesis and metastasis. Mechanistically, miR-182-5p interacted with ZFP36L1 at two sites in its 3’ un-translated region (UTR) and repressed ZFP36L1 expression in NPC. Consistently, an inverse correlation was observed between the expression levels of miR-182-5p and ZFP36L1 using clinical NPC tissues, and down-regulation of ZFP36L1 in NPC predicts poor survival. Furthermore, overexpression of miR-182-5p in NPC was attributable to the transcriptional activation effect induced by hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α).
Conclusion: Our data suggest that miR-182-5p facilitates cell proliferation and migration in NPC through its ability to down-regulate ZFP36L1 expression, and that the HIF-1α/miR-182-5p/ZFP36L1 axis may serve as a novel therapeutic target in the management of NPC.