Research Papers:

MiR-744 functions as a proto-oncogene in nasopharyngeal carcinoma progression and metastasis via transcriptional control of ARHGAP5

Yuan Fang _, Xiaoxia Zhu, Jian Wang, Na Li, Dianhe Li, Nazmus Sakib, Zhou Sha and Wen Song

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:13164-13175. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.3754

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Yuan Fang1,*, Xiaoxia Zhu1,*, Jian Wang1,*, Na Li1, Dianhe Li1, Nazmus Sakib1, Zhou Sha1, Wen Song1

1Department of Radiation Oncology, Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, China

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Xiaoxia Zhu, e-mail: zhuxx01@126.com

Keywords: miR-744, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, ARHGAP5, tumorigenesis, metastasis

Received: October 24, 2014     Accepted: April 6, 2015     Published: April 18, 2015


Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is a highly invasive and metastasis-prone epithelial cancer. The paucity of effective treatment strategies for recurrent and metastatic NPC is the major cause for stagnating survival rate of NPC. Therefore, it’s urgent to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying NPC progression and identify novel avenues for targeted therapy. It has emerged recently that microRNAs are potential pro-tumorigenic or tumor-suppressive factors that participate in oncogenesis. In this study, we found that miR-744 expression was upregulated in NPC specimens compared to nasopharyngeal epithelium (NPE) tissue, and miR- 744 upregulation was significantly associated with TNM stage, tumorigenesis and metastasis. Functional studies revealed that miR-744 acts as a novel tumor promotor in NPC. Moreover, we determined that miR-744 targets ARHGAP5 (Rho GTPase activating protein 5), a protumorigenic gene, by directly interacting with its promoter and thereby regulating its expression at transcriptional level. Reintroduction of ARHGAP5 resembled the effects of miR-744 and silencing of ARHGAP5 clearly abrogated miR-744-induced enhancement of cell migration and invasion. High level of ARHGAP5 was positively correlated with that of miR-744 and with advanced stages of NPC, as well as with lymph node metastasis. Taken together, these data reveal for the first time that miR-744 exerts its proto-oncogenic function by directly targeting ARHGAP5 promoter. This newly identified miR-744/ARHGAP5 pathway provides further insight into the progression and metastasis of NPC and indicates potential novel therapeutic targets for NPC.

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