Abstract

Epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) plays a pivotal role in cancer progression. Hsa-miR-205 is considered one of the fundamental regulators of EMT. In the present study, we found that miR-205 was down-regulated in glioma tissues and human glioma cells U87 and U251. Meanwhile, miR-205 overexpression enhanced E-cadherin, reduced mesenchymal markers, and decreased cell proliferation, migration, and invasion in vitro. In vivo, miR-205 suppressed tumor growth. Additionally, HOXD9 was confirmed as a direct target of miR-205. Suppression of HOXD9 by miR-205 was demonstrated by luciferase reporter assay, quantitative real time-PCR analysis, and western blot. Moreover, we observed a negative correlation between miR-205 and HOXD9 in human glioma tissues. In summary, our findings demonstrated that miR-205 suppresses glioma tumor growth, invasion, and reverses EMT through down-regulating its target HOXD9.

Introduction

Gliomas are the most commonly diagnosed primary tumors of the brain [1]. Recent progress in genomic, epigenetic, and transcriptomic testing suggested that gliomas can develop from multiple classes of cells in the central nervous system. Despite the use of a multimodal treatment regime, which consists of surgical intervention, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, the progression-free survival rate of patients with gliomas is roughly 7 months and the median survival is only 12–15 months [2]. Response to therapy is dependent on multiple factors, including tumor growth rate and invasiveness, and there is an urgent need for therapies directed against newly discovered molecular targets, particularly those involved in epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT).

During EMT, polarized epithelial cells cease to interact with the basal surface of the basement membrane and undergo biochemical changes that enable them to adopt a mesenchymal cell phenotype [3]. EMT plays a fundamental role in promoting the invasion and metastasis of gliomas since it is a complex, multistage process, whereby cells lose their adhesive properties and become more motile and invasive [4]. One of the key features of the transition is the repression or down-regulation of the tumor suppressor, E-cadherin, which normally acts a cell adhesion molecule. Inhibiting EMT forms a strategy for treating gliomas [5]. Importantly, recent evidence has identified that multiple miRNAs are involved in regulating EMT [6,7]. MiRNAs are short, endogenous, and non-coding RNA molecules responsible for regulating gene expression via antisense complementarity to messenger RNA. MiRNAs play critical roles in several biological processes, including EMT and cancer development, making them viable targets for glioma intervention [8].

Numerous miRNAs are now recognized to play a role in glioma development, including miR-335 [9], miR-218 [10], miR-92b [11], miR-145 [12], miR-124 [13], and miR-15b and miR-152 [14]. Previous studies have also shown that down-regulation of miR-205 reduces glioblastoma cell migration, invasion, and EMT by targetting ZEB1 [15]. In the present study, we established that miR-205 is down-regulated in human glioma tissues and cells and that its overexpression inhibits the invasive ability of U251 and U87 cells through regulation of EMT-related gene expression. We also identified HOXD9 as a target of miR-205 and showed that HOXD9 levels are inversely correlated with miR-205 levels in glioma tissues. These data offer new insights into the molecular development of gliomas, providing novel targets for therapeutic intervention.

Materials and methods

Cell culture

Human glioma lines U87 and U251, as well as normal human astrocytes (NHA), were purchased from Cell Bank of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Shanghai, China). DMEM/F12 containing 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS) and 1% penicillin and streptomycin was used for culturing U87, U251, and NHA cells. HEK-293T cells were cultured in DMEM medium containing 10% FBS, 2 mmol/ml glutamine, 100 units of penicillin/ml, and 100 ng of streptomycin/ml. All cells were incubated at 37°C supplemented with 5% CO2.

Patient samples

All human normal brain and primary glioma tissue samples were obtained from patients who did not receive any treatment for glioma admitted between 2013 and 2017 to the Department of Neurosurgery, the Beijing Shijitan Hospital. Tissue samples were collected during surgery and then immediately snap frozen in liquid nitrogen, followed by storing at −80°C until RNA extraction. All specimens were used after obtaining informed consent from patients, and the study had been approved by the Ethics Committee of Capital Medical University on human subject research and in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki.

Oligonucleotides and cell transfection

HOXD9 wild-type and mutant plasmids and miR-205 mimics were synthesized by GenePharma Co., Ltd. (Shanghai, China). Cells were transfected using Lipofectamine™ 2000 (Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA, U.S.A.) at 50–70% confluence. Oligonucleotides (50 nmol/l) were transfected into U87 and U251 glioma cells according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Lentivirus packaging and establishment of stable cell lines

A lentiviral packaging kit was acquired from Open Biosystems. Lentiviruses carrying has-miR-205 or hsa-miR-negative control (miR-NC) were synthesized by GenePharma and packaged in accordance to the manufacturer’s manual in HEK-293T cells. The viruses were then collected from the medium supernatant. Stable cell lines were established by infecting lentivirus into U87 and U251 cells and selected using puromycin. pReceiver-Lv105-HOXD9 and pReceiver-Lv105-Negative Control were acquired from GeneCopoeia (Rockville, MD, U.S.A.). Lentiviral supernatant obtained from HEK-293T cells was used to infect U87 cells stably expressing miR-205 or miR-NC.

TagetScan and luciferase reporter assay

TargetScan [16] was used to predict the binding site between the 3′-UTR of HOXD9 and miR-205. The 3′-UTR of HOXD9 was amplified from human cDNA using PCR. To mutate the miR-205 binding site, the 3′-UTR of HOXD9 (AAUGAAGG) was replaced by TTACTTCC. The PCR products were inserted into pMIR REPORTER (Ambion, Austin, TX, U.S.A.) using Sac I and Hind III. Successful ligation was validated by sequencing. HEK-293T cells, which were seeded into 24-well plates, were co-transfected with the wild-type or mutated HOXD9 3′-UTR reporter plasmids and a control Renilla luciferase pRL-TK vector. After 48 h, luciferase assays were performed using the Dual-Glo Luciferase Assay System (Promega, Madison, WI, U.S.A.). Values were normalized to Renilla luciferase activity. All assays were performed in triplicate.

RNA extraction, reverse transcription PCR, and quantitative real time-PCR

Total RNAs were isolated from cells or human tissue samples using TRIzol reagent (Invitrogen) according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Real-time PCR was performed to detect HOXD9 mRNA levels. The primers were the following: HOXD9 forward, 5′-GAGGAGGAGAAGCAGCATTC -3′ and reverse, 5′-TTCTCCAGCTCAAGCGTCTG-3′; GAPDH forward, 5′-TGGGGAAGGTGAAGGTCGG-3′ and reverse, 5′-CTGGAAGATGGTGATGGGA-3′. To quantitate miR-205 expression, RNAs were transcribed by a stem-loop RT primer method using the PrimeScript RT Reagent Kit (Takara, Dalian, China). The primer for miR-205 reverse transcription is: 5′-GTCGTATCTGCCGCCTGAACTTCACTCCATTCGCACTGGCAGAT-3′. The primers for real-time PCR were following: miR-205 forward, 5′-CTTGTCCTTCATTCCACCGGA -3′ and reverse, 5′-TGCCGCCTGAACTTCACTCC -3′; U6 forward, 5′-CGCTTCGGCAGCACATATA-3′ and reverse, 5′-TTCACGAATTTGCGTGTCAT-3′. Quantitative real time-PCR (qRT-PCR) was performed using SYBR Premix Dimer Eraser (Takara) on a 7900HT system. GAPDH or U6 levels were used as internal controls, and fold changes were calculated by relative quantification (2−ΔΔCT).

Western blotting

Total protein, which were extracted from tissue or cells, were quantitated for protein concentration using a bicinchoninic acid kit (Takara), followed by being electro-resolved in 10% SDS-PAGE gels and transferred to PVDF membranes. Membranes were then incubated with primary antibodies overnight at 4°C. The following antibodies used were from Abcam (Cambridge, MA, U.S.A.): HOXD9 (ab90260), E-cadherin (ab40772), N-cadherin (ab18203), Vimentin (ab8978), and GAPDH (ab8245), using dilutions recommended by the supplier. Following this, the membrane was incubated with the corresponding HRP linked anti-rabbit IgG antibody (1:2000, Cell signaling, Danvers, MA, U.S.A.) at room temperature for 1 h. The protein bands were visualized using the ECL-Plus reagent (Millipore, Billerica, MA, U.S.A.).

Cell viability assay

Cell proliferation was quantitated using MTT assay (Sigma, St. Louis, MO, U.S.A.). Briefly, cells in each group were plated at a density of 1 × 104 cells/well in 96-well plates. After being cultured for 24, 48, 72 and 96 h, MTT at a final concentration of 0.5 mg/ml were added and the incubation lasted for 4 h at 37°C. Medium was then removed and 150 mM DMSO solutions were added to dissolve the formazan crystals. The absorbance was measured using the Bio-Tek™ ELX-800™ Absorbance Microplate reader (Bio-Tek Instruments, Winooski, VT, U.S.A.) at 490 nm.

Cell migration assay

The cell migratory capacity of glioma cells was evaluated using the wound-healing assays. Cells grown to 95% confluence in six-well plates were scratched using a 200 μl pipette tip to form wound gaps, followed by washing twice with PBS. The level of wound closure was measured at two different time points (0 and 48 h) by a light microscope (Olympus, Tokyo, Japan) at ×100 magnification (×10 ocular with ×10 objective).

Colony formation assay

Total 600 cells were seeded on each well in six-well plates and cultured for 2 weeks. The cells were then fixed with methanol and stained with 0.2% crystal violet. Visible colonies consisting of >50 cells were counted.

Cell invasion assay

The 24-well BD Matrigel invasion chambers (BD Biosciences, Franklin Lakes, NJ, U.S.A.) were used to evaluate cell invasion in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Briefly, 5 × 104 cells were seeded in the upper well of the invasion chamber in DMEM without serum, and the lower chamber well was filled with DMEM supplemented with 10% FBS to stimulate cell invasion. After 24 h incubation, non-invading cells were removed from the top well with a cotton swab, while the bottom cells were fixed with 3% paraformaldehyde which then followed by staining with 0.1% crystal violet for 20 min. Five random fields of view at 100× magnification were chosen to count cell number, which was expressed as the average number of cells per field of view.

In vivo tumorigenesis

Animal experiments were approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of Capital Medical University. NOD/SCID mice (4-week-old male) were acquired from Animal Center of Military Medical Sciences Academy (Beijing, China). For tumorigenesis assays, U87 cells stably expressing miR-205 or miR-NC (5 × 106 cells per mouse) were subcutaneously injected into the right flank of NOD/SCID mice. Tumor size was measured with calipers once a week using the formula of size = width2 × length/2. The mice were killed after 6 weeks by cervical dislocation, and subcutaneous tumors were harvested. The tumors were then weighed and frozen in liquid nitrogen and then stored at −80°C. Six mice were used in each group.

Statistical analysis

Data were performed in triplicates and expressed as the means ± S.D. Two independent sample t test or one-way analysis of variance was performed using GraphPad Prism 5.0 software. A P value of less than 0.05 was considered to be statistically significant.

Results

miR-205 is down-regulated in human glioma tissues and cell lines

To explore the role of miR-205 in glioma, we compared the expression of miR-205 in glioma tissues and normal tissues. As shown in Figure 1A, a marked down-regulation of mir-205 was observed (P<0.001). Further, analysis of miR-205 levels in normal brain cell line, NHA, and common glioma cell lines, U87 and U251, revealed that miR-205 is significantly lower in U87 and U251 cells, compared with NHA cells (P<0.01) (Figure 1B). These evidences suggested that miR-205 down-regulation may be one of the characteristics of glioma. We therefore proceeded to investigate if miR-205 adopts a tumor-suppressing role in glioma.

miR-205 is down-regulated in human glioma tissues and cell lines

Figure 1
miR-205 is down-regulated in human glioma tissues and cell lines

(A) miR-205 is significantly decreased in primary glioma tissues (n=40) in comparison with normal brain tissues (n=40). (B) miR-205 expression in normal human astrocytes (NHA) and human glioma cell lines U87 and U251. MiR-205 expression was examined by qPCR and normalized to U6 expression. Assays were performed in triplicate. **P<0.01, ***P<0.001. Means ± S.D. was shown.

Figure 1
miR-205 is down-regulated in human glioma tissues and cell lines

(A) miR-205 is significantly decreased in primary glioma tissues (n=40) in comparison with normal brain tissues (n=40). (B) miR-205 expression in normal human astrocytes (NHA) and human glioma cell lines U87 and U251. MiR-205 expression was examined by qPCR and normalized to U6 expression. Assays were performed in triplicate. **P<0.01, ***P<0.001. Means ± S.D. was shown.

miR-205 overexpression inhibits invasive ability of U251 and U87 cells and regulates EMT-related gene expression

To confirm the suppressing role of miR-205 in glioma, we first achieved miR-205 overexpression through transfection of miR-205 mimics in U87 and U251 cells. As shown in Figure 2A, in both cell lines, miR-205 overexpression effectively reduced cell proliferation in MTT assay, in comparison with cells transfected with negative control miRNA (miR-NC). In line with this, scratch wound assay (Figure 2B), transwell invasion assay (Figure 2C), and colony formation assay (Figure 2D) indicated prominent attenuation of cell invasive ability (P<0.01). Due to the important role of EMT in cancer progression, we analyzed several EMT biomarkers, including E-cadherin, N-cadherin, vimentin, along with HOXD9. It was shown that after miR-205 overexpression in U87 and U251 cells, E-cadherin was up-regulated, while N-cadherin and vimentin were down-regulated, which is consistent with attenuated EMT. Concomitantly, HOXD9 was also down-regulated. (Figure 2E).

miR-205 overexpression inhibits invasive ability of U251 and U87 cells and regulates EMT-related gene expression

Figure 2
miR-205 overexpression inhibits invasive ability of U251 and U87 cells and regulates EMT-related gene expression

(A) Overexpression of miR-205 decreased U87 and U251 cell growth. (B) Wound-healing assay in U87 and U251 cells overexpressing miR-205. The wound gaps were photographed and measured. (C) Transwell invasion assay of U87 and U251 cells overexpressing miR-200b. Cells in the bottom of the invasion chamber were fixed, stained, and photographed. (D) Colony formation assays after 2 weeks of miR-205 treatment. (E) Western blot analysis was conducted to examine the protein expression of HOXD9, N-cadherin, E-cadherin, and Vimentin from U87 and U251 cells. (F,G) MiR-205- or miR-NC- treated U87 cells were implanted subcutaneously into nude mice and tumor formation was measured. (F) Tumor volume was measured once a week. And tumor weight was determined at 6 weeks after cell injection (n=6) (G) Western blot analysis was conducted to examine the protein expression of HOXD9, N-cadherin, E-cadherin, and Vimentin from the tumor tissues. Assays were performed in triplicate. **P< 0.01, means ± S.D. was shown.

Figure 2
miR-205 overexpression inhibits invasive ability of U251 and U87 cells and regulates EMT-related gene expression

(A) Overexpression of miR-205 decreased U87 and U251 cell growth. (B) Wound-healing assay in U87 and U251 cells overexpressing miR-205. The wound gaps were photographed and measured. (C) Transwell invasion assay of U87 and U251 cells overexpressing miR-200b. Cells in the bottom of the invasion chamber were fixed, stained, and photographed. (D) Colony formation assays after 2 weeks of miR-205 treatment. (E) Western blot analysis was conducted to examine the protein expression of HOXD9, N-cadherin, E-cadherin, and Vimentin from U87 and U251 cells. (F,G) MiR-205- or miR-NC- treated U87 cells were implanted subcutaneously into nude mice and tumor formation was measured. (F) Tumor volume was measured once a week. And tumor weight was determined at 6 weeks after cell injection (n=6) (G) Western blot analysis was conducted to examine the protein expression of HOXD9, N-cadherin, E-cadherin, and Vimentin from the tumor tissues. Assays were performed in triplicate. **P< 0.01, means ± S.D. was shown.

We next performed in vivo evaluation of how miR-205 overexpression alters tumoriogenesis. miR-205 or miR-NC overexpressing U87 cells were used to initiated tumor xenografts in mouse. As shown in Figure 2F, tumors overexpressing miR-205 exhibited apparently smaller sizes, lower tumor growth, and tumor weight at the time of harvesting. In the meantime, no obvious difference in body weight was observed in mice bearing the miR-205 or miR-NC overexpressing tumors (Supplementary Figure S1). Western blot analysis of HOXD9, E-cadherin, N-cadherin, and vimentin indicated similar EMT attenuation in tumors that overexpressed miR-205 (Figure 2G).

HOXD9 is a target of miR-205 and HOXD9 levels are inversely correlated with miR-205 levels in glioma tissues

To unveil the mechanism of miR-205 regulation in glioma, we performed TargetScan analysis [16] and identified HOXD9 as a target of miR-205. A binding site was found between miR-205 and the 3′-UTR of HOXD9 (Figure 3A). To verify this, luciferase reporter assay was conducted and we showed that miR-205 reduces the level of wild-type 3′-UTR of HOXD9 (P<0.01), but not the mutant HOXD9-3′-UTR (Figure 3B). In U87 cells, miR-205 overexpression was associated with a down-regulation of HOXD9 mRNA (Figure 3C), and a higher HOXD9 level was observed in glioma tissue compared with normal brain tissue. A negative correlation was found between miR-205 expression and HOXD9 levels in glioma specimens (Figure 3D). Together, these evidences implicate that the interaction between miR-205 and HOXD9 may play a crucial role in regulating glioma progression.

HOXD9 is a target of miR-205, and HOXD9 levels are inversely correlated with miR-205 levels in glioma tissues

Figure 3
HOXD9 is a target of miR-205, and HOXD9 levels are inversely correlated with miR-205 levels in glioma tissues

(A) Diagram of the seed sequence of miR-205 matching the 3′-UTR of the HOXD9 gene and the design of wild-type or mutant HOXD9 3′-UTR-containing reporter constructs. (B) Luciferase reporter assays in glioma cells after co-transfection of cells with wild-type or mutant 3′-UTR HOXD9 and miR-205. (C) The mRNA expression of HOXD9 in miR-205 or miR-NC transfected cells was determined by qRT-PCR analysis, and fold changes were obtained from the ratio of HOXD9 to U6 levels. (D) The mRNA expression of HOXD9 in normal brain tissues and glioma specimens was determined by qRT-PCR analysis. (E) Spearman’s correlation analysis was used to determine the correlation between the expression levels of HOXD9 and miR-205 in glioma specimens. The data represent the fold change in the expression (mean ± S.D.) of three replicates. **P<0.01.

Figure 3
HOXD9 is a target of miR-205, and HOXD9 levels are inversely correlated with miR-205 levels in glioma tissues

(A) Diagram of the seed sequence of miR-205 matching the 3′-UTR of the HOXD9 gene and the design of wild-type or mutant HOXD9 3′-UTR-containing reporter constructs. (B) Luciferase reporter assays in glioma cells after co-transfection of cells with wild-type or mutant 3′-UTR HOXD9 and miR-205. (C) The mRNA expression of HOXD9 in miR-205 or miR-NC transfected cells was determined by qRT-PCR analysis, and fold changes were obtained from the ratio of HOXD9 to U6 levels. (D) The mRNA expression of HOXD9 in normal brain tissues and glioma specimens was determined by qRT-PCR analysis. (E) Spearman’s correlation analysis was used to determine the correlation between the expression levels of HOXD9 and miR-205 in glioma specimens. The data represent the fold change in the expression (mean ± S.D.) of three replicates. **P<0.01.

Overexpression of HOXD9 counteracted the suppressive effects of miR-205

To validate the importance of HOXD9-miR-205 interaction in glioma, we ectopically overexpressed HOXD9 in U87 and U251 cells with miR-205 or miR-NC expression. We showed that in contrast with the significant reduction in cell proliferation induced by miR-205 overexpression (P<0.01), the suppressive effects were partly reduced after HOXD9, as evidenced by faster growth rate (P<0.01) (Figure 4A). Similarly, the suppression of cell migration and invasion by miR-205 overexpression was abrogated by HOXD9 (P<0.01) (Figure 4B). Further, overexpression of both miR-205 and HOXD9 also abrogated the EMT-suppressive effects of miR-205 (P<0.01) (Figure 4C). These data corroborated that the tumor-suppressing effects of miR-205 may be partly attributable to its inhibition of HOXD9.

Overexpression of HOXD9 counteracted the suppressive effects of miR-205

Figure 4
Overexpression of HOXD9 counteracted the suppressive effects of miR-205

We further tested whether HOXD9 was involved in miR-205-mediated inhibition of cell proliferation, migration, invasion and EMT, and discovered that cell proliferation, migration, and invasion were increased in U87/miR-205 and U251/miR-205 cells transfected with HOXD9 (P<0.01; Figure 4A,B). As we confirmed, invasion and proliferation were inhibited by overexpressing miR-205, which targetted HOXD9. To determine whether miR-205 could directly down-regulate HOXD9 expression and its downstream pathways, we transfected pReceiver-Lv105-HOXD9 into U87 and U251 cells stably expressing miR-205 or miR-NC. HOXD9 down-regulation by miR-205 was counteracted by the overexpression of HOXD9 as evidenced by western blot (P<0.01; Figure 4C). Interestingly, the down-regulation of N-cadherin and Vimentin, which was thought to be an indirect result of miR-205 overexpression, was rescued by the up-regulation of HOXD9. Similarly, the overexpression of HOXD9 in miR-205 treated cells down-regulated E-cadherin expression (P<0.01; Figure 4C).

Figure 4
Overexpression of HOXD9 counteracted the suppressive effects of miR-205

We further tested whether HOXD9 was involved in miR-205-mediated inhibition of cell proliferation, migration, invasion and EMT, and discovered that cell proliferation, migration, and invasion were increased in U87/miR-205 and U251/miR-205 cells transfected with HOXD9 (P<0.01; Figure 4A,B). As we confirmed, invasion and proliferation were inhibited by overexpressing miR-205, which targetted HOXD9. To determine whether miR-205 could directly down-regulate HOXD9 expression and its downstream pathways, we transfected pReceiver-Lv105-HOXD9 into U87 and U251 cells stably expressing miR-205 or miR-NC. HOXD9 down-regulation by miR-205 was counteracted by the overexpression of HOXD9 as evidenced by western blot (P<0.01; Figure 4C). Interestingly, the down-regulation of N-cadherin and Vimentin, which was thought to be an indirect result of miR-205 overexpression, was rescued by the up-regulation of HOXD9. Similarly, the overexpression of HOXD9 in miR-205 treated cells down-regulated E-cadherin expression (P<0.01; Figure 4C).

Discussion

Gliomas are aggressive cancers and particularly devastating due to their invasive nature and incurability using currently available treatment methods [17]. It is now recognized that gliomas develop as a consequence of multiple genetic alterations that accumulate alongside tumor progression [18]. Therefore, our understanding of the genetic changes controlling cellular adhesion, migration, and consequent invasion is critical for more confident predictions of glioma development. There is mounting evidence indicating that multiple miRNAs play a central role in cancer migration and invasion via EMT [19]. Additionally, miR-18a is also known to regulate the proliferation, migration, and invasion of human glioma cells via the up-regulation of neogenin [20]. Although prior studies have reported on the role of miR-205 in regulating EMT in gliomas and also provided some molecular targets of this miRNA [6,15], we aimed to further elucidate how these molecular changes relate to gliomas, a cancer subtype highly dependent on EMT.

To shed new light on the role played by miR-205 in glioma progression, we first characterized the level of miR-205 expression between normal and glioma tissue and found that miR-205 was significantly down-regulated in glioma tissue. This finding was also mirrored in glioma cell lines and led us to further investigate the potential for miR-205 to function as a tumor suppressor, as observed with additional miRNAs [21,22]. Observations made during MTT, scratch wound and invasion assays highlighted that overexpression of miR-205 reduced cell proliferation and led to a reduction in the invasive ability of cells overexpressing the miRNA, adding support to the tumor suppressive role of miR-205. In order to understand the molecular basis for these observations, we measured several EMT biomarkers, including E-cadherin, N-cadherin, vimentin, and HOXD9 by western blot. Cells overexpressing miR-205 displayed an up-regulation of E-cadherin and a down-regulation of N-cadherin, vimentin, and HOXD9. Conversely, the loss of miR-205 in gliomas induced an increase of N-cadherin, vimentin, and HOXD and a reduction in E-cadherin. Vimentin is a type III filament protein that plays a major role in cellular support and organelle anchorage. Vimentin is a known contributor to EMT and can modulate cytoskeletal organization and cell migration [23]. The protein is associated with tumor grade, therapeutic response, and survival rates of glioma patients [24]. E-cadherin functions to maintain cell–cell interactions and is a well-known tumor suppressor gene. Loss or down-regulation of E-cadherin is known to disrupt cellular interactions, which is a critical event in EMT [25]. Increased expression of N-cadherin, an additional protein involved in cell–cell adhesion, has previously been shown to promote cell invasion and motility in breast cancers [26] and re-expression of the protein in glioma cells has been shown to restore cell polarity and limit glioma cell migration [27]. These findings suggest that miR-205 most likely influences glioma malignancy rates through regulation of processes involved in EMT.

HOXD9 was studied in more detail in order to shed light on the mechanism of miR-205 regulation in glioma. HOXD9 is documented to function as an oncogene in several cancer cells [28], including gliomas [29]. In glioma, HOXD9 has been reported as an important regulator of cell viability, proliferation, invasion, and migration, whereby knockdown of HOXD9 attenuates glioma progression [30]. In our study, TargetScan prediction uncovered a direct regulatory mechanism through the identification of a binding site between miR-205 and the 3′-UTR of HOXD9. This prediction was reinforced experimentally as HOXD9 levels found to be inversely correlated with miR-205 levels in glioma tissues. Furthermore, overexpression of HOXD9 was able to counteract the suppressive effects of miR-205. Taken together, these data indicate that miR-205 is able to target HOXD9, down-regulating its expression in gliomas. Essentially, miR-205 can suppress cell migration and invasion of glioma cells by regulating the EMT process through HOXD9.

In conclusion, we revealed that miR-205 is down-regulated in gliomas and that it is capable of suppressing glioma tumor growth and invasion through down-regulation of HOXD9. We also used bioinformatics tools to identify the binding site of miR-205 on the 3′-UTR of HOXD9. These data offered novel insights into glioma molecular biology and provided a new molecular target that may be exploited for treating this currently incurable disease.

Availability of data and materials

The dataset used and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Funding

We thank the financial support from Beijing Municipal Administration of Hospitals’ Youth Program [code: QML20170702] and Beijing Shijitan Hospital Research Project Fund [grant number: 2015-C11].

Author Contribution

B.D., G.Z., and Q.J. designed and carried out the study. Z.H, G.Z, B.M, and H.S. participated in experiments and statistical analysis. B.D. and Q.J. wrote the manuscript. Q.J. revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

The study protocol was approved by the Ethics Committee of Capital Medical University.

Competing Interests

The authors declare that there are no competing interests associated with the manuscript.

Abbreviations

     
  • qRT-PCR

    quantitative real time-PCR

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Supplementary data