Research Papers:

HnRNPK/miR-223/FBXW7 feedback cascade promotes pancreatic cancer cell growth and invasion

De He, Cheng Huang, Qingxin Zhou, Dawei Liu, Longhui Xiong, Hongxia Xiang, Guangnian Ma and Zhiyong Zhang _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:20165-20178. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.15529

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De He1,*, Cheng Huang1,2,*, Qingxin Zhou3,*, Dawei Liu1,2, Longhui Xiong1, Hongxia Xiang1, Guangnian Ma1, Zhiyong Zhang4

1Department of General Surgery, The Affiliated Baoan Hospital of Southern Medical University, Shenzhen, Guangdong, 518101, China

2Guangdong Medical University Graduate School, Zhanjiang, Guangdong, 524001, China

3Department of Gastrointestinal Oncology, Cancer Hospital of Harbin Medical University, Harbin, Heilongjiang, 150086, China

4Department of Surgery, Robert-Wood-Johnson Medical School University Hospital, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Zhiyong Zhang, email: [email protected], [email protected]

De He, email: [email protected]

Keywords: HnRNPK, miR-223, FBXW7, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, GSK3

Received: July 25, 2016     Accepted: January 23, 2017     Published: February 20, 2017


Several studies have identified miR-223 critically involved in various types of cancer, including pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). However, its action and regulatory mechanisms in PDAC remains largely unclear. In this study, we found that the expression levels of miR-223 were increased in clinical samples with PDAC (81.6%). The upregulation of miR-223 increases the proliferation, migration, and invasive abilities of PDAC cells in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, miR-223 directly targeted FBXW7 and overexpression of FBXW7 reverted miR-223- induced drastic proliferation in PDAC cells. Interestingly, miR-223 promoter was found to form a coprecipitable complex with hnRNPK, and siRNA knockdown of hnRNPK in PDAC cells reduced the levels of miR-223. These results show that hnRNPK is a cellular protein that binds and affects the accumulation of miR-223 in PDAC. Furthermore, FBXW7 interacts with hnRNPK and promotes its degradation, which requires phosphorylation of hnRNPK at threonine 1695 by GSK3. Consistently, we observed an inverse expression pattern between FBXW7 and miR-223, whereas a positive expression pattern between miR-223 and hnRNPK was found in human PDAC tissues. These data unveiled an important new miR-223/FBXW7/HnRNPK feedback cascade in human PDAC.

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