Our recent study indicated that overexpression of Sp1 enhances the proliferation of lung cancer cells, while represses metastasis. In this study, we found that the transcriptional activity of FOXO3 was increased, but its protein levels decreased following Sp1 expression. Sp1 increased expression of miR-182, which was then recruited to the 3'-untranslated region of FOXO3 mRNA to silence its translational activity. Knockdown of miR-182 inhibited lung cancer cells growth, but enhanced the invasive and migratory abilities of these cells through increased N-cadherin expression. Repression of FOXO3 expression in the miR-182 knockdown cells partially reversed this effect, suggesting that miR-182 promotes cancer cell growth and inhibits cancer metastatic activity by regulating the expression of FOXO3. The expression of several cancer metastasis-related genes such as ADAM9, CDH9 and CD44 was increased following miR-182 knockdown. In conclusion, in the early stages of lung cancer progression, Sp1 stimulates miR-182 expression, which in turn decreases FOXO3 expression. This stimulates proliferation and tumor growth. In the late stages, Sp1 and miR-182 decline, thus increasing FOXO3 expression, which leads to lung metastasis.
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