Research Papers:

MicroRNA-155, induced by FOXP3 through transcriptional repression of BRCA1, is associated with tumor initiation in human breast cancer

Song Gao, Yicun Wang, Meng Wang, Zhi Li, Zhiying Zhao, Raymond X. Wang, Rong Wu, Zhengwei Yuan, Ranji Cui, Kai Jiao, Lizhong Wang, Ling Ouyang and Runhua Liu _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:41451-41464. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.17816

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Song Gao1,2,*, Yicun Wang3,*, Meng Wang4, Zhi Li5, Zhiying Zhao6, Raymond X. Wang2, Rong Wu1, Zhengwei Yuan1, Ranji Cui3, Kai Jiao2,7, Lizhong Wang2,7, Ling Ouyang8 and Runhua Liu2,7

1The Second Department of Clinical Oncology, Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University, Shenyang, China

2Department of Genetics, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA

3Provincial Key Laboratory on Molecular and Chemical Genetic, Second Hospital of Jilin University, Changchun, China

4Department of Oncology, Cancer Hospital of Harbin Medical University, Harbin, China

5Department of General Surgery, Henan Cancer Hospital, Zhengzhou, China

6School of Computer Science and Engineering, Northeastern University, Shenyang, China

7Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA

8Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University, Shenyang, China

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Runhua Liu, email: [email protected]

Ling Ouyang, email: [email protected]

Keywords: microRNA, breast cancer, plasma, FOXP3, BRCA1

Received: December 10, 2016     Accepted: April 11, 2017     Published: May 11, 2017


MicroRNA (miR)-155 is upregulated in breast cancer cells and in sera of patients with breast cancer, but its clinical relevance remains uncertain. The objective of the present effort was to address the transcriptional regulation of miR-155. A bioinformatics analysis of public datasets validated upregulation of miR-155 in tumor cells of patients with breast cancer, particularly those who were at early stages and had triple-negative cancers. The expression profiling and clinical relevance of miR-155 in tumor cells and blood cells were characterized by TaqMan miR assays and, in plasma and exosomes, by nest-quantitative PCR analysis. There was a positive correlation between expression of FOXP3 and miR-155 in breast cancer cell lines and primary breast cancers. In breast cancer cells, FOXP3 induced miR-155 through transcriptional repression of BRCA1. Furthermore, in an Alabama cohort, blood and plasma samples were collected from 259 participants, including patients with breast cancer or benign breast tumors, members of breast cancer families, and matched healthy female controls. For patients with early stage or localized breast cancer, there were high levels of miR-155 in both plasma and blood cells. In cultured breast cancer cells, expression of miR-155 was induced by FOXP3 but was not significantly changed in culture medium or exosomes, suggesting that circulating miR-155 originated from blood cells. These findings reveal a transcriptional axis of FOXP3-BRCA1-miR-155 in breast cancer cells and show that plasma miR-155 may serve as a non-invasive biomarker for detection of early stage breast cancer.

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