Research Papers:

miR-146b-5p mediates p16-dependent repression of IL-6 and suppresses paracrine procarcinogenic effects of breast stromal fibroblasts

Mysoon M. Al-Ansari and Abdelilah Aboussekhra _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:30006-30016. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.4933

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Mysoon M. Al-Ansari1,2, Abdelilah Aboussekhra1

1Department of Molecular Oncology, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

2Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Science and Medical Studies, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence to:

Abdelilah Aboussekhra, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: p16INK4A, IL-6, miR-146b-5p, breast cancer, cancer-associated fibroblasts

Received: April 24, 2015     Accepted: August 07, 2015     Published: August 17, 2015


Increasing evidence support the critical roles of active stromal fibroblasts in breast cancer development and spread. However, the mediators and the mechanisms of regulation are still not well defined. We have shown here that the tumor suppressor p16INK4A protein inhibits the pro-carcinogenic effects of breast stromal fibroblasts through repressing the expression/secretion of IL-6. Indeed, p16INK4A suppresses IL-6 at the mRNA and protein levels. This effect is mediated trough miR-146b-5p, which inhibits IL-6 expression through a specific sequence at the IL-6 3′UTR. In addition, we present clear evidence that miR-146b-5p inhibition is sufficient to transactivate breast stromal fibroblasts, which promote epithelial-to-mesenchymal-transition in breast cancer cells in a paracrine manner. By contrast, ectopic expression of miR-146b-5p in active fibroblasts abrogated their pro-carcinogenic effects. The physiological importance of miR-146b-5p inhibition was revealed by showing that the levels of pre-miR-146b-5p as well as its mature form are reduced in cancer-associated fibroblasts as compared with their normal adjacent counterparts from cancer-free tissues isolated from the same patients. Interestingly, treatment of active breast stromal fibroblasts with curcumin increased the level of the p16INK4A coding CDKN2A mRNA and miR-146b-5p and suppressed IL-6, which confirms the repressive effect of these two tumor suppressor molecules on IL-6, and shows the possible “normalization” of cancer-related active fibroblasts. These results show that miR-146b-5p has non-cell-autonomous tumor suppressor function through inhibition of IL-6, suggesting that targeting this microRNA in breast stromal fibroblasts could be of great therapeutic value.

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