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MicroRNA-122 suppresses cell proliferation and induces cell apoptosis in hepatocellular carcinoma by directly targeting Wnt/β-catenin pathway



Fusheng Wu, Department of Oncological Surgery, the First Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, 79 Qingchun Road, Hangzhou 310003, China

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To validate whether the anti-cancer effect of microRNA-122 (miR-122) on hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is mediated through regulating Wnt/β-catenin signalling pathways.


The expression levels of miR-122 in HCC tissues and varied hepatoma cells were quantified by real-time PCR. MiR-122 agomir was transfected into HepG2, Hep3B cells to over-express miR-122. The effect of over-expression miR-122 on proliferation and apoptosis of HepG2 and Hep3B cells was evaluated using CCK-8 kit and flow cytometer respectively. The 3′-UTR segments of Wnt1 containing the miR-122 binding sites were amplified by PCR and the luciferase activity in the transfected cells was assayed. Wnt1 mRNA level was quantified using RT-PCR. Protein levels of Wnt1, β-catenin and TCF-4 were detected using Western blotting.


In comparison with the expression level of miR-122 in para-cancerous tissues or Chang liver cell, the expression level in HCC tissues or varied hepatoma cells was significantly decreased (< 0.05). Over-expression of miR-122 significantly inhibited the proliferation (< 0.05), and promoted the apoptosis of HepG2 and Hep3B cells. Over-expressed miR-122 down-regulated the protein levels of Wnt1, β-catenin and TCF-4 (< 0.05). MiR-122 suppressed the luciferase activity of the pmiR-Wnt1-wt by approximately 50% compared with the negative control, while mutation or removal of the miR-122 binding site using siRNA or mir-122 inhibitor blocked the suppressive effect (< 0.05).


MiR-122 expression is down-regulated in human HCC. Over-expression of miR-122 inhibits HCC cell growth and promotes the cell apoptosis by affecting Wnt/β-catenin-TCF signalling pathway.