miR-125a-5p upregulation suppresses the proliferation and induces the cell apoptosis of lung adenocarcinoma by targeting NEDD9

  • Authors:
    • Hong Zheng
    • Jianbo Wu
    • Jiachen Shi
    • Chunya Lu
    • Yuanyuan Wang
    • Qianqian Sun
    • Guojun Zhang
    • Guoqiang Zhao
  • View Affiliations

  • Published online on: July 13, 2017     https://doi.org/10.3892/or.2017.5812
  • Pages: 1790-1796
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Abstract

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are critical translational regulators that act as oncogenes or tumor-suppressor genes. qRT-PCR assay results showed that the expression levels of miR-125a-5p are lower in lung adenocarcinoma (AD) tissues than expression levels in adjacent non-neoplastic tissues. This relative expression was found to be significantly associated with lymph node metastases. Cell growth, apoptosis, caspase activity and Transwell invasion assay results showed that in two lung adenocarcinoma cell lines transfected with a miR-125a-5p mimic, proliferation and invasion rates were found to be significantly reduced, whereas the apoptosis rate of the miR-125a-5p mimic group was enhanced. Subsequent western blotting and luciferase reporter assays showed that miR-125a-5p is able to bind to putative binding sites within the mRNA 3’ untranslated region (UTR) of neural precursor cell expressed, developmentally downregulated 9 (NEDD9). Our findings suggest that miR-125a-5p may serve as a therapeutic agent for lung adenocarcinoma through its major target, NEDD9.

Introduction

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of highly conserved small non-coding single-stranded RNAs, and they are endogenously expressed in many species. These miRNAs regulate gene expression by targeting the 3′ untranslated regions (3′UTRs) of mRNAs (16). Numerous studies have shown that miRNAs act as intrinsic regulators of many cellular processes, including cell proliferation, apoptosis, invasion and differentiation (712). Aberrant expression of miRNAs has been found to be associated with the development and progression of numerous types of cancers. Existing research shows that aberrant expression of miRNAs has prognostic significance for certain types of cancer, such as lung and esophageal cancer, lymphocytic leukemia and neuroblastoma (1316).

Lung cancer is a major cause of cancer-related death worldwide (17,18). Although chemotherapy and molecular-targeted therapy have largely improved recently, the survival rate of lung cancer patients remains poor. The invasiveness and metastasis of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells are still critical challenges in clinical management. Identifying novel and effective molecules that may suppress the invasiveness and metastasis of lung cancer cells may facilitate the development of anti-lung cancer strategies. Numerous studies have shown that expression of many miRNAs is altered in lung adenocarcinoma (1921), indicating that deregulation of miRNAs may play a role in the carcinogenesis of lung adenocarcinoma. We previously conducted an miRNA chip-based expression analysis of lung adenocarcinoma tissues and found that miR-125a-5p expression in lung adenocarcinoma tissues was largely lower than that in paired non-tumor tissues. Previous studies have also shown that miR-125a suppresses tumor growth, invasion and metastasis in cervical cancer, oral squamous cell and hepatocellular carcinoma, and lung cancer (2225).

Based on bioinformatic analyses, we hypothesized that neural precursor cell expressed, developmentally downregulated 9 (NEDD9) may act as a target of miR-125a-5p. NEDD9 is a non-catalytic scaffolding protein, which is a member of the Crk-associated substrate (CAS) family (26).

The effects of miR-125a-5p on invasiveness and metastasis of lung adenocarcinoma cells are unclear to date. In the present study, we investigated miR-125a-5p expression levels in tumor and normal tissues from 68 lung adenocarcinoma patients, and observed its concomitant alteration in regards to lung adenocarcinoma cell proliferation, apoptosis and metastasis.

Materials and methods

Patient sample collection

The present study was approved by the Ethics Committee of Henan University and informed consent was obtained from all patients. Sixty-eight lung samples (lung adenocarcinoma and adjacent non-tumor lung tissues) were obtained from The First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University (Zhengzhou, China), and the Cancer Hospital of Henan Province (Zhengzhou, China) between November 2013 and March 2015. All the samples were frozen in liquid nitrogen immediately after resection until use. None of the patients enrolled in the study had received chemotherapy or radiotherapy. All tumors were histopathologically confirmed as lung adenocarcinoma by two independent qualified clinical pathologists. The clinical data of 68 cases of lung adenocarcinoma are shown in Table I.

Table I.

Relative expression of miR-125a and NEDD9 in lung adenocarcinoma tissues and the correlation with clinicopathological parameters of 68 cases with lung adenocarcinoma.

Table I.

Relative expression of miR-125a and NEDD9 in lung adenocarcinoma tissues and the correlation with clinicopathological parameters of 68 cases with lung adenocarcinoma.

ParameternmiR-125aP-valueNEDD9 mRNAP-value
Sex
  Male420.361±0.0560.5671.458±0.1540.573
  Female260.335±0.105 1.507±0.039
Age (years)
  <60400.349±0.1620.8031.528±0.1320.453
  ≥60280.341±0.189 1.469±0.087
Differentiation
  Well130.521±0.1650.001a1.228±0.3710.005a
  Moderate350.328±0.124 1.517±0.267
  Poor200.279±0.058 1.584±0.158
TNM stage
  I270.447±0.1160.001a1.307±0.1660.001a
  II310.295±0.034 1.589±0.203
  III100.233±0.074 1.623±0.206
Lymph node metastasis
  Negative250.450±0.2510.009a1.273±0.1600.001a
  Positive430.312±0.279 1.597±0.206

a P<0.05. NEDD9, neural precursor cell expressed, developmentally downregulated 9; TNM, tumor-node-metastasis.

RNA extraction and quantitative real-time PCR

Total RNA was extracted from lung adenocarcinoma and adjacent non-tumor tissue samples using TRIzol reagent (Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA, USA). RNA (1 µg) was used to synthesize cDNA. The expression level of miR-125a-5p was determined using a High-Specificity miR-125a-5p qRT-PCR Detection kit (Stratagene Corp., La Jolla, CA, USA) using qRT-PCR (ABI 7500 Fast System; Applied Biosystems, Foster City, CA, USA). All protocols were performed according to the manufacturer's instructions. U6 small nuclear RNA (U6 snRNA) was used as an endogenous control for normalization. Relative expression level of miR-125a-5p was calculated using the 2−ΔΔCt method. miR-125a-5p primers were as follows: RT-primer, 5′-GTCGTATCCAGTGCAGGGTCCGAGGTATTCGCACTGGATACGACAGGGACTC-3′; forward, 5′-TCCGAAGTGTCCAATTTCCC-3′ and reverse, 5′-GTGCAGGGTCCGAGGT-3′; U6 primers were as follows: RT-primer, 5′-GTCGTATCCAGTGCAGGGTCCGAGGTATTCGCACTGGATACGA CAAAATATGGAACTGC-3′; forward, 5′-CTCGCTTCGGCAGCACA-3′ and reverse, 5′-GTGCAGGGTCCGAGGT-3′.

Cell culture

Human lung adenocarcinoma cell lines (A549 and H1299) were purchased from the Type Culture Collection of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Shanghai, China). Both cell lines were maintained in Dulbecco's modified Eagle's medium supplemented with 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS; Gibco-BRL, Gaithersburg, MD, USA) and incubated at 37°C/5% CO2.

miRNA transfection

The miR-125a-5p mimic (GMR-miR™ miRNA-125a-5p mimic) and the scrambled oligonucleotide used in the present study were synthesized by Shanghai GenePharma Co. Ltd. (Shanghai, China). For cell transfection, lung adenocarcinoma cell lines A549 and H1299 were seeded into 6-well plates at a density of 1.5×105 cells/well. Once cells reached 50~80% confluency, transient transfection was conducted using Lipofectamine™ 2000 (Invitrogen), and the working concentration of miR-125a-5p mimic was 50 nM. Cells from each cell line were subdivided into three groups: the blank group (blank) that was non-transfected, scramble group (scramble) that was transfected with the scrambled oligonucleotide, and the miR-125a-5p mimic group (miR-125a-5p mimic) that was transfected with the miR-125a-5p mimic.

Cell growth assay

Cells (blank, scramble and miR-125a-5p mimic) were seeded into a 96-well plate at a density of 1×104 cells/well, with five replicate wells/group. The absorbance value for each well was determined using Cell Counting Kit-8 (CCK-8; Dojindo, Kumamoto, Japan). The optical density (OD) was detected using CCK-8 reagents after 0, 24, 48 and 72 h of cultivation. The OD was recorded using a microplate reader (ELx800; BioTek, Winooski, VT, USA), at a wavelength of 450 nm (OD450). The experiments were independently triplicated.

Transwell assay

Transwell filters (Costar, Cambridge, MA, USA) were coated with Matrigel (3.9 µg/µl, 60–80 µl) on the upper surface of a polycarbonic membrane (6.5-mm diameter, 8-µm pore size). After 30 min of incubation at 37°C, the Matrigel solidified and served as the extracellular matrix for tumor cell invasion analysis. Three groups of cells (blank, scramble and miR-125a-5p mimic) were adjusted to 2×105 cells/ml, and resuspended in 200 µl of serum-free medium in the upper chambers, and the lower chamber was supplied with 500 µl of medium containing 10% FBS, followed by incubation at 37°C in 5% CO2 for 48 h. After incubation, the medium was removed from the upper chamber and cells in the upper chamber were carefully removed with a cotton swab, and then stained with Methylene Blue Staining solution (Beyotime, Haimen, China). The number of cells invading the Matrigel was counted from three randomly selected visual fields, using an inverted microscope at a magnification of ×200. All experiments were performed in triplicate.

Apoptosis assay

Three groups of cells (blank, scramble and miR-125a-5p mimic) were harvested at 48 h post-transfection by trypsinization, and were adjusted to 1×106 cells/ml in 1X binding buffer. After staining with FITC-Annexin V and propidium iodide (PI) using the FITC-Annexin V Apoptosis Detection Kit I (BestBio, Shanghai, China), cells were analyzed using a FACScan® flow cytometer (BD Biosciences, Franklin Lakes, NJ, USA).

Caspase activity assay

Cells from each treatment group (blank, scramble and miR-125a-5p mimic) were harvested at 48 h post-transfection. Then caspase activity was conducted using a caspase activity assay kit (Beyotime) according to the manufacturers instructions. Cellular extracts and substrates (Ac-DEVD-pNA) were kept into 96-well plates for 2 h at 37°C. Absorbance values were recorded using a microplate reader (ELx800), at a wavelength of 405 nm.

Dual-luciferase assay

The human NEDD9 3′ UTR fragments containing putative binding sites for miR-125a-5p were amplified by PCR from human genomic DNA. Overlap extension PCR was used to obtain the mutant NEDD9 3′ UTRs. These DNA fragments were cloned into a pmir-GLO reporter vector (Promega, Madison, WI, USA), downstream of the luciferase gene, to generate the recombinant vectors, wild-type-3′ UTR and mutant type 3′ UTR. For the luciferase reporter assay, A549 cells were transiently co-transfected with miRNA (miR-125a-5p mimic or scrambled-125a-5p) and reporter vectors (wild-type-3′ UTR or mutant type 3′ UTR), using Lipofectamine™ 2000. Luciferase activities were measured 48 h post-transfection using the Dual-Luciferase Assay kit (Promega), according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Western blotting

Total proteins of the cultured cells were extracted using RIPA buffer containing phenylmethanesulfonyl fluoride (PMSF) 48 h post-transfection. The protein concentrations were determined using BCA protein assay kit (Beyotime). Proteins (30 µg) were subjected to sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and transferred onto polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) membranes. After blocking with 5% BSA in 0.05% Tween-20-TBS for 1 h, the membranes were incubated overnight at 4°C with diluted (1:1,000) primary antibodies (polyclonal rabbit anti-NEDD9; Santa Cruz Biotechnology, Inc., Santa Cruz, CA, USA). After extensive washing with TBST, the membranes were incubated with diluted (1:3,000) anti-rabbit IgG-HRP secondary antibody (Santa Cruz Biotechnology, Inc.). Signals were detected using a chemiluminescence detection kit (Amersham Pharmacia Biotech, Piscataway, NJ, USA). GAPDH (Santa Cruz Biotechnology, Inc.) was used as an endogenous reference.

Statistical analysis

All analyses were performed using SPSS 17.0 software. All data are expressed as the mean ± standard deviation (SD). One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to analyze the multiple groups data. A value of P<0.05 was considered statistically significant.

Results

Downregulation of miR-125a-5p and upregulation of NEDD9 in lung adenocarcinoma

The clinicopathological characteristics of the 68 lung adenocarcinoma cases included in the present study are presented in Table I. We found that the miR-125a-5p expression level in lung adenocarcinoma tissues was associated with differentiation status, tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) stage and lymph node metastasis (P<0.05; Table I). No significant differences were observed between miR-125a-5p expression and sex or age. Using adjacent non-tumor tissues as reference, miR-125a-5p expression in lung adenocarcinoma tissues was found to be significantly reduced (P<0.05; Fig. 1A). Compared to adjacent non-cancerous tissues, the expression level of NEDD9 in lung adenocarcinoma tissues was higher (P<0.05; Fig. 1B). To investigate the correlation between miR-125a-5p and NEDD9, we examined their expression levels in primary human lung adenocarcinoma tissues. Unlike the matched normal lung tissues, in the tumor tissues from the 68 patients with lung adenocarcinoma, miR-125a-5p was reduced, whereas NEDD9 protein was increased, which demonstrated a significant negative correlation (R2=0.632; P<0.01; Fig. 1C). The data suggest that the expression of NEDD9 and miR-125a-5p have an inverse correlation in lung adenocarcinoma tissues.

Upregulation of miR-125a-5p inhibits the proliferation of A549 and H1299 cells

To test the proliferation effects of miR-125a-5p on lung adenocarcinoma cells, we performed CCK-8 assay. The corresponding cell growth curves are presented in Fig. 2. There were no significant differences in OD450 values between the blank and scramble groups (P>0.05). However, compared to the blank and scramble groups, the OD450 values for the miR-125a-5p mimic group on 24, 48 and 72 h were significantly decreased (P<0.05) in both the A549 (Fig. 2A) and H1299 (Fig. 2B) cell lines.

Upregulation of miR-125a-5p inhibits the invasive ability of A549 and H1299 cells

To test the effect of miR-125a-5p on the invasive ability of lung adenocarcinoma cells, we performed Transwell assay. We found that the mean number of cells that penetrated the Transwell membrane was significantly lower in the miR-125a-5p mimic group than these numbers in the blank and scramble groups (P<0.05) in both the A549 (Fig. 3B) and H1299 (Fig. 3C) cell lines.

Upregulation of miR-125a-5p induces the apoptosis of A549 and H1299 cells

Our FCM results indicated that the apoptosis level of cells transfected with the miR-125a-5p mimic was significantly enhanced compared to these levels in the cells in the blank and scramble groups (P<0.05) in both the A549 (Fig. 4A) and H1299 (Fig. 4B) cell lines. Similarly, transfection of the A549 and H1299 cells with the miR-125a-5p mimic was found to significantly increase caspase-3/−7 activity compared to cells in the blank and scramble groups (P<0.05) in both the A549 (Fig. 4C) and H1299 (Fig. 4D) cell lines.

NEDD9 is a direct target of miR-125a-5p

Bioinformatic analyses using TargetScan (www.targetscan.org) and miRanda (www.microrna.org) predicted that the 3′ UTR of NEDD9 contains binding sites for miR-125a-5p (Fig. 5A). Subsequent western blot analysis indeed showed that NEDD9 expression was downregulated in the A549 and H1299 cells following transfection with the miR-125a-5p mimic (P<0.05; Fig. 5B). To verify whether NEDD9 is a direct target of miR-125a-5p, we used a dual-luciferase reporter system containing either wild-type or mutant 3′ UTR of NEDD9, respectively. Co-transfection with miR-125a-5p and the reporter vector containing the wild-type-3′ UTR significantly suppressed luciferase activity (P<0.05; Fig. 5C). These results indicate that miR-125a-5p negatively regulates NEDD9 expression by directly binding to putative binding sites in the 3′ UTR.

NEDD9 silencing and miR-125a-5p overexpression exert antiproliferative and pro-apoptotic effects on A549 and H1299 cells

In order to verify whether miR-125a-5p functions by targeting NEDD9 in lung adenocarcinoma cells, we divided cells into four groups (blank, scramble, miR-125a-5p mimic and siRNA NEDD9), and conducted CCK-8 and FCM assays. Western blot analysis indeed showed that NEDD9 expression of the miR-125a-5p mimic and siRNA NEDD9 groups were downregulated (P<0.05) in the A549 (Fig. 6A) and H1299 cells (Fig. 6B). CCK-8 assay results showed that the OD450 values of miR-125a-5p mimic and siRNA NEDD9 groups on days 24, 48 and 72 h were significantly decreased (P<0.05) in both the A549 (Fig. 6C) and H1299 (Fig. 6D) cells, compared to the blank and scramble groups. Results of FCM indicated that the apoptosis levels in the miR-125a-5p mimic and siRNA NEDD9 groups were significantly enhanced compared to those of the cells in the blank and scramble groups (P<0.05) in both the A549 (Fig. 6E) and H1299 (Fig. 6F) cell lines. These results indicate that miR-125a-5p suppresses proliferation and induces cell apoptosis by targeting NEDD9 in A549 and H1299 cells.

Discussion

Lung cancer is regarded as one of the leading causes of cancer-related death worldwide. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for ~80% of all lung cancer cases with a 15% 5-year survival. Numerous studies have shown that expression of miRNAs is altered in lung adenocarcinoma (1921), indicating that deregulation of miRNAs may play a role in the carcinogenesis of lung adenocarcinoma. Some research has estimated that miRNAs may regulate up to 30% of all human genes and control a variety of cellular processes (2729). miRNAs have been shown to be deregulated in various cancers, and their expression levels are related with the diagnosis and prognosis of different types of tumors (2931).

In the present study, we found that miR-125a-5p expression was downregulated in human lung adenocarcinoma tissues, whereas NEDD9 expression was upregulated. In addition, the expression levels of NEDD9 and miR-125a-5p were found to have an inverse correlation in lung adenocarcinoma tissues. In addition, we also found that the expression level of miR-125a-5p is associated with lymph node metastasis, TNM stage and the differentiation status in lung adenocarcinoma. Upregulation of miR-125a-5p in A549 and H1299 cells was found to suppress the proliferative and invasive capacities of lung adenocarcinoma cells, and promote apoptosis at the same time. These results suggest that the expression of miR-125a-5p has a close correlation with lung adenocarcinoma development and progression.

NEDD9 is a non-catalytic scaffolding protein, which belongs to the Crk-associated substrate (CAS) family. Large studies have shown that the NEDD9 protein could act as a biomarker of invasive capacity and an essential key for pro-metastatic behavior in many types of cancer, including breast cancer and melanoma (3234). The interaction of NEDD9 with FAK and Src leads to the tyrosine phosphorylation of NEDD9, and regulates and activates transcription pathways in the end (35). However, the function of NEDD9 in lung adenocarcinoma is not clear, and to date no studies have investigated whether NEDD9 expression is regulated by miR-125a-5p in lung adenocarcinoma. In the present study, we confirmed that miR-125a-5p upregulation negatively regulates the expression of NEDD9. miR-125a-5p was found to suppress the metastatic and the invasive abilities of lung adenocarcinoma cell lines A549 and H1299. NEDD9 was shown to act as a direct functional target of miR-125a-5p using western blot and luciferase reporter assays. Moreover, CCK-8 and FCM assay results showed that miR-125a-5p suppressed proliferation and induced cell apoptosis by targeting NEDD9 in A549 and H1299 cells. Taken together, our findings indicate that miR-125a-5p may act as a tumor-suppressor by targeting NEDD9.

In conclusion, we demonstrated that miR-125a-5p is downregulated in lung adenocarcinoma, and upregulation of miR-125a-5p inhibits the proliferative and invasive capacities and promotes apoptosis in lung adenocarcinoma cell lines A549 and H1299. The present study established an experimental and theoretical foundation for individualized chemotherapy for lung adenocarcinoma patients.

Acknowledgements

We thank all staff at the Research Centre who contributed to the present study. The present study was supported by a grant from the Ministry of Major Science and Technology of Henan (201401005).

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September 2017
Volume 38 Issue 3

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APA
Zheng, H., Wu, J., Shi, J., Lu, C., Wang, Y., Sun, Q. ... Zhao, G. (2017). miR-125a-5p upregulation suppresses the proliferation and induces the cell apoptosis of lung adenocarcinoma by targeting NEDD9. Oncology Reports, 38, 1790-1796. https://doi.org/10.3892/or.2017.5812
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Zheng, H., Wu, J., Shi, J., Lu, C., Wang, Y., Sun, Q., Zhang, G., Zhao, G."miR-125a-5p upregulation suppresses the proliferation and induces the cell apoptosis of lung adenocarcinoma by targeting NEDD9". Oncology Reports 38.3 (2017): 1790-1796.
Chicago
Zheng, H., Wu, J., Shi, J., Lu, C., Wang, Y., Sun, Q., Zhang, G., Zhao, G."miR-125a-5p upregulation suppresses the proliferation and induces the cell apoptosis of lung adenocarcinoma by targeting NEDD9". Oncology Reports 38, no. 3 (2017): 1790-1796. https://doi.org/10.3892/or.2017.5812