AIM: To investigate the effect of miR-106b on tumor progression in hepatitis B virus (HBV)-associated hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
METHODS: A total of 120 patients who underwent liver resection for HCC at National Cheng Kung University Hospital were enrolled in the present study. MicroRNA (miRNA) array was first used to screen the miRNA expression profiles in HCC patients. The clinical records were retrospectively analyzed, and correlations with the miRNA expression profiles were evaluated. The mRNA expression levels of the miR-106b-25 cluster (miR-106b, miR-93 and miR-25), and MCM7 in tumor and non-tumor samples were quantitated using quantitative real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (q-RT-PCR) analysis, and correlations in the levels of miR-106b, miR-93 and miR-25 expression were calculated. Kaplan-Meier overall and disease-free survival rates of HBV-associated HCC patients were analyzed using the log-rank test based on miR-106b expression. The comparison of the miR-106b expression levels in patients with different clinical outcomes was analyzed using Mann-Whitney U tests. Furthermore, a hepatitis B virus X protein (HBx) expression plasmid was transfected into Huh7 and Hep 3B cells. The expression levels of the miR-106b-25 cluster and MCM7 in HBx-expressing Huh7 and Hep 3B cells were detected using q-RT-PCR.
RESULTS: miRNA array screening showed that miR-106b and its cluster, miR-93 and miR-25 were up-regulated in HCC patients (P < 0.01). The value of miR-106b expression in HBV-associated HCC patients was significantly higher than that in HCV- (P < 0.05) or non-B/non-C- (P < 0.001) associated HCC patients. The expression of the miR-106b-25 cluster was significantly higher in tumor tissue (P < 0.001) and associated with the host gene, MCM7, in clinical specimens from HBV-associated HCC patients. Furthermore, the expression levels of miR-106b, miR-93 and miR-25 were positively correlated in HBV-associated HCC tissues (miR-106 vs miR-93, r = 0.75; miR-93 vs miR-25, r = 0.69; miR-106b vs miR-25, r = 0.33). The overall and disease-free survival curves showed that high-miR-106b expression was correlated with the poor prognosis of HBV-associated HCC. HCC differentiation was significantly correlated with miR-106b expression (P < 0.05). Lower miR-106b expression levels resulted in the well differentiation of HCC. Moreover, the expression of the miR106b-25 cluster and MCM7 was up-regulated in Huh7 and Hep 3B cells after transfection with the HBx expression plasmid.
CONCLUSION: The data obtained in the present study suggests that HBx enhances miR-106b transcription to promote tumor progression in HBV-associated HCC.
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