Background: MicroRNAs (miRNAs), small noncoding RNA molecules can function as oncogenes or tumor suppressors in tumorigenesis. Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is one of the most prevalent cancers worldwide with a 5-year survival rate of approximately 50%. Methods: The expression of microRNA-99a (miR-99a) in OSCC tissues and cell lines was investigated using quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) analysis. The functions of miR-99a in migration/invasion and lung colonization were determined by transwell and tail vein injection assays, respectively. Specific targets of miR-99a were determined by software prediction, correlation with target protein expression, and luciferase reporter assay. The signaling pathways involved in regulation of miR-99a were investigated using the kinase inhibitors. Results: We observed reduced levels of miR-99a, identified as one of the most downregulated miRNA in OSCC and all tested OSCC cell lines compared to normal oral keratinocytes. Ectopic miR-99a expression in OSCC cells markedly reduced migration and invasion in vitro as well as lung colonization in vivo. When evaluating the specific targets of miR-99a, we found that ectopic miR-99a expression downregulates insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R) protein and that the expression of miR-99a correlates negatively with IGF1R protein in OSCC cells. Insertion of the 3′UTR of IGF1R mRNA into the 3′UTR of a reporter gene markedly reduced luciferase activity in OSCC cells expressing miR-99a, suggesting that miR-99a reduces luciferase activity by targeting the 3′UTR of IGF1R mRNA. When evaluating the mechanisms of miR-99a downregulation, we observed the upregulation of miR-99a expression in serum-starved conditions and its suppression in response to insulin-like growth factor (IGF1) stimulation. Inhibitors of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) kinase inhibited IGF1-induced suppression of miR-99a, suggesting the negative regulation of miR-99a expression by IGF1R signaling. Conclusion: Overall, results indicate that miR-99a functions as a tumor metastasis suppressor in OSCC cells and mutually regulates IGF1R expression in a reciprocal regulation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Medicine
- Cancer Research