Research Papers:

Overexpression of miR-135b-5p promotes unfavorable clinical characteristics and poor prognosis via the repression of SFRP4 in pancreatic cancer

Xu Han, Hexige Saiyin, Junjie Zhao, Yuan Fang, Yefei Rong, Chenye Shi, Wenhui Lou and Tiantao Kuang _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:62195-62207. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.19150

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Xu Han1,*, Hexige Saiyin2,*, Junjie Zhao1,*, Yuan Fang1, Yefei Rong1, Chenye Shi1, Wenhui Lou1 and Tiantao Kuang1

1Department of General Surgery, Zhongshan Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai, China

2The State Key Laboratory of Genetic Engineering, School of Life Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai, China

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Tiantao Kuang, email: kuang.tiantao@zs-hospital.sh.cn

Keywords: miR-135b-5p, SFRP4, clinical characteristics, prognosis, tumorigenesis

Received: December 12, 2016    Accepted: June 01, 2017    Published: July 10, 2017


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a highly aggressive and malignant neoplasm. The aberrant expression of miR-135b-5p and secreted frizzled-related protein 4 (SFRP4) has been revealed to be involved in various cancers. However, the clinical significance of miR-135b-5p and that of its potential target SFRP4 in PDAC remain to be elucidated. Here, we found that miR-135b-5p was markedly upregulated in pancreatic cancer tissue compared with corresponding adjacent normal tissue, whereas SFRP4 was significantly downregulated. The expression of miR-135b-5p was negatively correlated with the expression of SFRP4. PDAC patients with regional lymph node metastases, vascular invasion, tumor microthrombus and higher PET-CT SUVmax values had significantly higher expression of miR-135b-5p. Immunoblotting revealed that regional lymph node metastases were correlated with expressive states of SFRP4. Negative SFRP4 expression was significantly associated with old age, larger tumor size, regional lymph node metastasis and poor differentiation. Survival analyses demonstrated that miR-135b-5p and SFRP4 could predict outcomes and that miR-135b-5p was an independent predictor. In vitro, the overexpression of miR-135b-5p promoted the migration and proliferation of PANC-1 and MiaPaCa-2 cells, while immunoblotting demonstrated the downregulation of SFRP4 and the upregulation of beta-catenin. Inhibition of miR-135b-5p suppressed migration, induced apoptosis of PANC-1 and AsPC-1 cells, and reduced the expression of beta-catenin. A luciferase reporter assay confirmed that miR-135b-5p repressed the expression of SFRP4 via the direct targeting of its 3’-untranslated regions. In conclusion, the overexpression of miR-135b-5p and the downregulation of SFRP4 were associated with unfavorable clinical characteristics and poor prognosis, and SFRP4 was shown to be a direct downstream target of miR-135b-5p. Thus, the mechanism that underlies the miR-135b-5p-SFRP4-Wnt/beta-catenin axis represents a potential target for PDAC diagnosis and therapy.

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