Research Papers:

The miR-196b miRNA inhibits the GATA6 intestinal transcription factor and is upregulated in colon cancer patients

Sebastian Fantini, Valentina Salsi, Luca Reggiani, Antonino Maiorana and Vincenzo Zappavigna _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:4747-4759. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.13580

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Sebastian Fantini1, Valentina Salsi1,2, Luca Reggiani3, Antonino Maiorana3, Vincenzo Zappavigna1

1Department of Life Sciences, Modena 41125, Italy

2Dipartimento di Scienze Mediche e Chirurgiche Materno-Infantili e dell'Adulto, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena 41125, Italy

3Dipartimento di Medicina Diagnostica, Clinica e di Sanità Pubblica, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena 41124, Italy

Correspondence to:

Vincenzo Zappavigna, email: zappavigna.vincenzo@unimore.it

Keywords: colorectal cancer, gene regulation, gene expression, molecular mechanisms, molecular carcinogenesis

Received: April 18, 2016    Accepted: November 11, 2016    Published: November 25, 2016


Objective: To explore the possible misexpression of the microRNA miR-196b in colorectal cancer (CRC) and its role in controlling the expression of GATA6, a putative target gene crucial to intestinal cell homeostasis and tumorigenesis.

Design: The expression of miR-196b was analysed by qRT-PCR in surgical resection samples from a cohort of sporadic colon cancer patients. Manipulations of miR-196b expression were performed to demonstrate its inhibition of GATA6 protein levels.

Results: We found that miR-196b is significantly upregulated in pre-treatment surgical resection samples from a cohort of sporadic colon cancer patients. The upregulation of miR-196b correlates with less severe clinicopathological characteristics, such as early tumor stage and absence of lymph node metastases. We show that in CRC cells, miR-196b targets the mRNA of GATA6, a transcription factor involved in the homeostasis and differentiation of intestinal epithelial cells, and a positive regulator of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway. We moreover found that the increase of miR-196b correlates with a reduced GATA6 protein expression in colon cancer patients.

Conclusion: Our results establish miR-196b as a post-transcriptional inhibitor of GATA6 in CRC cells, implicating miR-196b function in gene regulatory pathways crucial to intestinal cell homeostasis and tumorigenesis. Our results furthermore suggest a role of miR-196b expression in CRC, as an antagonist of GATA6 function in tumor cells, thus providing the basis for a potential targeting strategy for the treatment of CRC.

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