Research Papers:

miR-155-5p inhibition promotes the transition of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells to gastric cancer tissue derived MSC-like cells via NF-κB p65 activation

Mengchu Zhu, Mei Wang, Fang Yang, Yiqing Tian, Jie Cai, Huan Yang, Hailong Fu, Fei Mao, Wei Zhu, Hui Qian & Wenrong Xu _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:16567-16580. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.7767

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Mengchu Zhu1,*, Mei Wang1,*, Fang Yang1, Yiqing Tian1, Jie Cai1, Huan Yang1, Hailong Fu1, Fei Mao1, Wei Zhu1, Hui Qian1 and Wenrong Xu1

1 Key Laboratory of Medical Science and Laboratory Medicine of Jiangsu Province, School of Medicine, Jiangsu University, Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, China

* These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Mei Wang, email:

Wenrong Xu, email:

Keywords: mesenchymal stem cells, gastric cancer, microRNA, tumor microenvironment

Received: August 06, 2015 Accepted: February 05, 2016 Published: February 26, 2016


Gastric cancer tissue-derived MSC-like cells (GC-MSC) share similar characteristics to bone marrow MSC (BM-MSC); however, the phenotypical and functional differences and the molecular mechanism of transition between the two cell types remain unclear. Compared to BM-MSC, GC-MSC exhibited the classic phenotype of reactive stroma cells, a stronger gastric cancer promoting capacity and lower expression of miR-155-5p. Inhibition of miR-155-5p by transfecting miRNA inhibitor induced a phenotypical and functional transition of BM-MSC into GC-MSC-like cells, and the reverse experiment deprived GC-MSC of tumor-promoting phenotype and function. NF-kappa B p65 (NF-κB p65) and inhibitor of NF-kappa B kinase subunit epsilon (IKBKE/IKKε) were identified as targets of miR-155-5p and important for miRNA inhibitor activating NF-κB p65 in the transition. Inactivation of NF-κB by pyrrolidine dithiocarbamic acid (PDTC) significantly blocked the effect of miR-155-5p inhibitor on BM-MSC. IKBKE, NF-κB p65 and phospho-NF-κB p65 proteins were highly enriched in MSC-like cells of gastric cancer tissues, and the latter two were correlated with the pathological progression of gastric cancer. In GC-MSC, the expression of miR-155-5p was downregulated and NF-κB p65 protein was increased and activated. NF-κB inactivation by PDTC or knockdown of its downstream cytokines reversed the phenotype and function of GC-MSC. Taken together, our findings revealed that miR-155-5p downregulation induces BM-MSC to acquire a GC-MSC-like phenotype and function depending on NF-κB p65 activation, which suggests a novel mechanism underlying the cancer associated MSC remodeling in the tumor microenvironment and offers an effective target and approach for gastric cancer therapy.

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