Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common and aggressive malignancies worldwide. Treatment outcomes remain poor mainly due to lack of good diagnostic/prognostic markers and limited therapeutic strategies. We previously characterized aberrant activation of the TF/FVII/PAR2 pathway, which subsequently results in decreased autophagy, as a crucial event in malignant progression of HCC. Here, we identified miR-135a as a highly upregulated miRNA in HCC in response to TF/FVII/PAR2 activation. Analyzing 103 HCC patient specimens, we confirmed that miR-135a was frequently elevated in HCC tissues with higher FVII expression compared to adjacent non-cancerous counterparts. Increased miR-135a levels in HCC were also associated with tumor staging, recurrence, microvascular invasion, and decreased disease-free survival. We subsequently identified Atg14, a key component that regulates the formation of autophagosome as a direct target of miR-135a. Ectopic expression of miR-135a suppressed Atg14 levels and inhibited the autophagic processes. Our results indicate strong positive correlations between miR-135a levels and malignant behaviors in HCC patients and also suggest novel functions of miR-135a in regulation of autophagy, which could be useful as a potential target for prognostic and therapeutic uses.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Medicine
- Drug Discovery