Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Molecular Biology, Microbiology and Biochemistry

First Advisor

Mo, Yin


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are non-coding small RNAs that regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level by interacting with the 3'-untranslated region (3'-UTR) of a target gene. Our previous studies indicate that miR-145 is downregulated in breast and colon cancer; moreover, it functions as a tumor suppressor capable of inhibiting tumor cell growth both in vitro and in vivo. In this study, we show that a putative tumor suppressor, miR-145, is regulated through the phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI-3K)/Akt and p53 pathways. Importantly, p53 transcriptionally induces the expression of miR-145 by interacting with a potential p53 response element (p53RE) in the miR-145 promoter. We further show that c-Myc is a direct target for miR-145. Although miR-145 silences the expression of c-Myc, anti-miR-145 enhances its expression. This specific silencing of c-Myc by miR-145 accounts at least in part for the miR-145- mediated inhibition of tumor cell growth both in vitro and in vivo. Finally, the blockade of miR-145 by anti-miR-145 is able to reverse the p53-mediated c-Myc repression. Together, these results define the role of miR-145 in the posttranscriptional regulation of c-Myc by p53. in addition, we show that miR-145 exerts its growth inhibitory function in a cell-specific manner. Although miR-145 inhibits cell growth in MCF-7 and HCT-116 cells, it has no significant effect on cell growth in metastatic breast cancer cell lines. However, miR-145 significantly suppresses cell invasion in these cells; in contrast, the antisense oligo against miR-145 increases cell invasion. miR-145 is also able to suppress lung metastasis in an experimental metastasis animal model. This miR-145-mediated suppression of cell invasion is in part due to the silencing of the metastasis gene mucin 1 (MUC1). Using luciferase reporters carrying the 3′-untranslated region of MUC1 combined with Western blot and immunofluorescence staining, we identify MUC1 as a direct target of miR-145. Moreover, ectopic expression of MUC1 enhances cell invasion, which can be blocked by miR-145. Of interest, suppression of MUC1 by miR-145 causes a reduction of β catenin as well as the oncogenic cadherin 11. Finally, suppression of MUC1 by RNAi mimics the miR-145 action in suppression of invasion, which is associated with downregulation of β-catenin and cadherin 11. Taken together, these results suggest that as a tumor suppressor, miR-145 inhibits not only tumor growth but also cell invasion and metastasis.




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