The epithelial-to-mesenchymal (EMT) transition is a prerequisite for conferring metastatic potential during tumor progression. microRNA-30a (miR-30a) expression was significantly lower in aggressive breast cancer cell lines compared with non-invasive breast cancer and non-malignant mammary epithelial cell lines. In contrast, miR-30a overexpression reversed the mesenchymal appearance of cancer cells to result in a cobblestone-like epithelial phenotype. We identified Slug, one of the master regulators of EMT, as a target of miR-30a using in silico prediction. Reporter assays indicated that miR-30a could bind to the 3'-untranslted region of Slug mRNA. Furthermore, we linked miR-30a to increased expression of claudins, a family of tight junction transmembrane proteins. An interaction between Slug and E-box in the claudin promoter sequences was reduced upon miR-30a overexpression, further leading to reduction of filopodia formation and decreased invasiveness/metastasis capabilities of breast cancer cells. Consistently, delivery of miR-30a in xenografted mice decreased tumor invasion and migration. In patients with breast cancer, a significantly elevated risk of the miR-30alow/CLDN2low/FSCNhigh genotype was observed, linking to a phenotypic manifestation of larger tumor size, lymph node metastasis, and advanced tumor stage among patients. In conclusion, the miR-30a/Slug axis inhibits mesenchymal tumor development by interfering with metastatic cancer cell programming and may be a potential target for therapy in breast cancer.
- Breast cancer metastasis