Research Papers:

Increase of miR-199a-5p by protoporphyrin IX, a photocatalyzer, directly inhibits E2F3, sensitizing mesenchymal tumor cells to anti-cancer agents

Jung Min Lee _, Mi Jeong Heo, Chan Gyu Lee, Yoon Mee Yang and Sang Geon Kim

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:3918-3931. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.2928

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Jung Min Lee1, Mi Jeong Heo1, Chan Gyu Lee1, Yoon Mee Yang1, Sang Geon Kim1

1College of Pharmacy and Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-742, Republic of Korea

Correspondence to:

Sang Geon Kim, e-mail: sgk@snu.ac.kr

Keywords: E2F3, protoporphyrin IX, miR-199a-5p, chemotherapeutic agent, hepatocellular carcinoma

Received: September 22, 2014     Accepted: December 15, 2014     Published: February 24, 2015


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Protoporphyrin IX (PPIX) has been used for photodynamic therapy. Mesenchymal cancer cells adapt to tumor microenvironments for growth and metastasis possibly in association with miRNA dysregulation. In view of the effect of PPIX on cancer-related genes, and its potential to inhibit tumor growth and migration/invasion, this study investigated whether PPIX enables mesenchymal liver tumor to restore dysregulated miRNAs, and if so, whether it sensitizes the cancer cells to chemotherapy. In addition, we explored new target(s) of the miRNA(s) that contribute to the anti-cancer effects. Of the ten miRNAs predicted by the 3′-UTR of HIF-1α mRNA, PPIX treatment increased miR-199a-5p, leading to the inhibition of E2F3 expression which is upregulated in mesenchymal liver tumor. miR-199a-5p levels were downregulated in HCC with E2F3 overexpression. An approach modulating epithelial-mesenchymal transition provided the expected changes in miR-199a-5p and E2F3 in vivo. PPIX prevented tumor cell growth and migration/invasion, and had a synergistic anti-cancer effect when combined with chemotherapeutics. In a xenograft model, PPIX treatment decreased overall growth and average tumor volume, which paralleled E2F3 inhibition. Overall, PPIX inhibited growth advantage and migratory ability of cancer cells and sensitized mesenchymal liver tumor cells to chemotherapeutics.

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