Research Papers:

Exosomal miR-940 maintains SRC-mediated oncogenic activity in cancer cells: a possible role for exosomal disposal of tumor suppressor miRNAs

Mohammed H. Rashed, Pinar Kanlikilicer, Cristian Rodriguez-Aguayo, Martin Pichler, Recep Bayraktar, Emine Bayraktar, Cristina Ivan, Justyna Filant, Andreia Silva, Burcu Aslan, Merve Denizli, Rahul Mitra, Bulent Ozpolat, George A. Calin, Anil K. Sood, Mohamed F. Abd-Ellah, Gouda K. Helal and Gabriel Lopez Berestein _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:20145-20164. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.15525

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Mohammed H. Rashed1,4, Pinar Kanlikilicer1,2, Cristian Rodriguez-Aguayo1,2, Martin Pichler7, Recep Bayraktar1, Emine Bayraktar1, Cristina Ivan1,2, Justyna Filant3, Andreia Silva5,6, Burcu Aslan1,2, Merve Denizli1, Rahul Mitra2, Bulent Ozpolat1,2, George A. Calin1,2, Anil K. Sood2,3, Mohamed F. Abd-Ellah4, Gouda K. Helal4, Gabriel Lopez Berestein1,2

1Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA

2Department of Center for RNAi and Non-Coding RNA, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA

3Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA

4Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt

5Instituto de Investigação em Saúde, Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal

6INEB-Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal

7Division of Clinical Oncology, Department of Medicine, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria

Correspondence to:

Gabriel Lopez Berestein, email: [email protected]

Keywords: exosomes, ovarian cancer, miR-940, SRC, tumor suppressive

Received: May 10, 2016     Accepted: January 03, 2017     Published: February 20, 2017


Exosomes have emerged as important mediators of diverse biological functions including tumor suppression, tumor progression, invasion, immune escape and cell-to-cell communication, through the release of molecules such as mRNAs, miRNAs, and proteins. Here, we identified differentially expressed exosomal miRNAs between normal epithelial ovarian cell line and both resistant and sensitive ovarian cancer (OC) cell lines. We found miR-940 as abundant in exosomes from SKOV3-IP1, HeyA8, and HeyA8-MDR cells. The high expression of miR-940 is associated with better survival in patients with ovarian serous cystadenocarcinoma. Ectopic expression of miR-940 inhibited proliferation, colony formation, invasion, and migration and triggered G0/G1 cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in OC cells. Overexpression of miR-940 also inhibited tumor cell growth in vivo. We showed that proto-oncogene tyrosine-protein kinase (SRC) is directly targeted by miR-940 and that miR-940 inhibited SRC expression at mRNA and protein levels. Following this inhibition, the expression of proteins downstream of SRC, such as FAK, paxillin and Akt was also reduced. Collectively, our results suggest that OC cells secrete the tumor-suppressive miR-940 into the extracellular environment via exosomes, to maintain their invasiveness and tumorigenic phenotype.

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