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Prior research has shown that critical differences between non-metastatic and metastatic tumor cells are at the level of microRNA. Consequently, harnessing these molecules for the treatment of metastatic cancer could have significant clinical impact. In the present study, we set out to identify metastasis-specific microRNAs which drive metastatic colonization of distant organs. Using a murine model of metastatic breast cancer, we employed a directed approach in which we screened for microRNAs that are differentially expressed between the primary tumors and metastatic lesions but concordantly expressed in all of the metastatic lesions irrespective of the tissue that is colonized. Of the identified targets, we focused on miR-710, which was consistently and significantly downregulated in the metastatic lesions relative to the primary tumors. The level of downregulation was independent of the distant organ that is involved, suggesting that miR-710 plays a fundamental role in metastatic colonization. Computational target prediction suggested a pleiotropic role for miR-710 in apoptosis, migration and invasion, and stemness. Using a previously validated oligonucleotide delivery system, we introduced miR-710 mimics into 4T1 metastatic breast adenocarcinoma cells and assessed the resultant phenotypic effects. We demonstrated significant inhibition of cell viability, migration, and invasion. We also showed that the treatment profoundly enhanced cell senescence, reduced stemness, and influenced markers of epithelial to mesenchymal transition, as evidenced by enhanced E-cadherin and reduced vimentin expression. This knowledge represents a first step towards harnessing a similar approach to discover novel microRNA targets with therapeutic potential in metastasis.
PMID: 31834924 [PubMed - in process]