Research Papers:

IGF-I induces upregulation of DDR1 collagen receptor in breast cancer cells by suppressing MIR-199a-5p through the PI3K/AKT pathway

Roberta Matà, Chiara Palladino, Maria Luisa Nicolosi, Anna Rita Lo Presti, Roberta Malaguarnera, Marco Ragusa, Daniela Sciortino, Andrea Morrione, Marcello Maggiolini, Veronica Vella and Antonino Belfiore _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:7683-7700. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.6524

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Roberta Matà1,*, Chiara Palladino1,*, Maria Luisa Nicolosi1, Anna Rita Lo Presti1, Roberta Malaguarnera1, Marco Ragusa2, Daniela Sciortino1, Andrea Morrione3, Marcello Maggiolini4, Veronica Vella5,6, Antonino Belfiore1

1Endocrinology, Department of Health Sciences, University Magna Graecia of Catanzaro, Catanzaro, Italy

2Department of Biomedical and Biotechnological Sciences Biology, Genetics and BioInformatics Unit, University of Catania, Catania, Italy

3Department of Urology and Biology of Prostate Cancer Program, Kimmel Cancer Center, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

4Department of Pharmacy, Health and Nutritional Sciences, University of Calabria, Rende, Italy

5Motor Sciences, School of Human and Social Sciences, “Kore” University of Enna, Enna, Italy

6Department of Clinical and Molecular Bio-Medicine, Endocrinology Unit, University of Catania, Garibaldi-Nesima Medical Center, Catania, Italy

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Antonino Belfiore, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: IGF-IR, insulin-like growth factor-I receptor, DDR1, breast cancer

Received: August 01, 2015     Accepted: November 16, 2015     Published: December 09, 2015


Discoidin Domain Receptor 1 (DDR1) is a collagen receptor tyrosine-kinase that contributes to epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and enhances cancer progression. Our previous data indicate that, in breast cancer cells, DDR1 interacts with IGF-1R and positively modulates IGF-1R expression and biological responses, suggesting that the DDR1-IGF-IR cross-talk may play an important role in cancer.

In this study, we set out to evaluate whether IGF-I stimulation may affect DDR1 expression. Indeed, in breast cancer cells (MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231) IGF-I induced significant increase of DDR1 protein expression, in a time and dose dependent manner. However, we did not observe parallel changes in DDR1 mRNA. DDR1 upregulation required the activation of the PI3K/AKT pathway while the ERK1/2, the p70/mTOR and the PKC pathways were not involved. Moreover, we observed that DDR1 protein upregulation was induced by translational mechanisms involving miR-199a-5p suppression through PI3K/AKT activation. This effect was confirmed by both IGF-II produced by cancer-associated fibroblasts from human breast cancer and by stable transfection of breast cancer cells with a human IGF-II expression construct. Transfection with a constitutively active form of AKT was sufficient to decrease miR-199a-5p and upregulate DDR1. Accordingly, IGF-I-induced DDR1 upregulation was inhibited by transfection with pre-miR-199a-5p, which also impaired AKT activation and cell migration and proliferation in response to IGF-I.

These results demonstrate that, in breast cancer cells, a novel pathway involving AKT/miR-199a-5p/DDR1 plays a role in modulating IGFs biological responses. Therefore, this signaling pathway may represent an important target for breast cancers with over-activation of the IGF-IR axis.

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