MicroRNA-140-5p suppresses tumor growth and metastasis by targeting transforming growth factor β receptor 1 and fibroblast growth factor 9 in hepatocellular carcinoma


  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report.

  • Supported by the National Keystone Basic Research Program of China (No. 2009CB521801), National High Technology Research and Development Program of China (No. 2006AA02Z4B2), Clinical Subjects' Key Project of Ministry of Health (2007-2009, 2010-2012), and National Science & Technology Major Projects (2009ZX09103-681, 2012ZX10002012-011), and National Nature Science Foundation of China (No. 81172018).


By comparing the expression profiles of microRNAs (miRNAs) in different hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) subtypes, we identified miR-140-5p as an HCC-related miRNA. We found that miR-140-5p was significantly decreased in HCC tissues and all of six liver cancer cell lines examined and its expression levels were correlated with multiple nodules, vein invasion, capsular formation, and differentiation, as well as overall and disease-free survival of HCC. We also found that miR-140-5p suppressed HCC cell proliferation and HCC metastasis. Multipathway reporter arrays suggested that miR-140-5p inhibited transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) and mitogen-activated protein kinase / extracellular signal-regulated kinase (MAPK/ERK) signaling. TGFB receptor 1 (TGFBR1) and fibroblast growth factor 9 (FGF9) were then characterized as the direct targets for miR-140-5p after it was found that ectopic miR-140-5p expression suppressed TGFBR1 and FGF9 expression. Silencing TGFBR1 and FGF9 by small interfering RNA (siRNA) resembled the phenotype resulting from ectopic miR-140-5p expression, while overexpression of TGFBR1 and FGF9 attenuated the effect of miR-140-5p on HCC growth and metastasis. Conclusion: These data elucidated a tumor suppressor role for miR-140-5p in HCC development and progression with therapeutic potential. Our correlation studies in clinical HCC samples further suggest that miR-140-5p could be a valuable biomarker for HCC prognosis. (Hepatology 2013 )