1. Liver Cancer Institute, Zhongshan Hospital, Fudan University, Key Laboratory of Carcinogenesis and Cancer Invasion, Ministry of Education, Shanghai 200032, China
2. Shanghai Center for Bioinformation Technology, Shanghai Academy of Science and Technology, Shanghai 201203, China
3. Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai 200032, China
*Authors contributed equally to this paper.
Dysregulation of microRNA (miRNA) is a frequent event in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), but little is known whether it is a bystander or an actual player on residual HCC metastasis during liver microenvironment remodeling initiated by hepatectomy.
Methods: The differently expressed miRNAs and mRNAs were identified from RNA-seq data. Western blot, qRT-PCR, fluorescence in situ hybridization, immunofluorescence and immunohistochemical were used to detect the expression of miRNA and mRNA in cell lines and patient tissues. The biological functions were investigated in vitro and in vivo. Chromatin immunoprecipitation, proximity ligation and luciferase reporter assay were used to explore the specific binding of target genes. The expression of HGF/ERBB3 signaling was detected by Western blot.
Results: In this study, HGF induced by hepatectomy was shown to promote metastasis of residual HCC cells. miR-17-5p and miR-20a-5p were confirmed to play inhibitory roles on HCC metastasis. And ERBB3 was found to be the common target of miR-17-5p and miR-20a-5p. HCC cells with lower levels of miR-17-5p and miR-20a-5p or higher level of ERBB3 were often more sensitive to response HGF stimuli and to facilitate metastatic colonization both in vitro and in vivo experimental systems. Furthermore, HGF reinforced ERBB3 expression by NF-κB transcriptional activity in a positive feedback loop. Of particular importance, HCC patients with lower levels of miR-17-5p and miR-20a-5p or higher level of ERBB3 had significantly shorter OS and PFS survivals after surgical resection.
Conclusion: miR-17-5p and miR-20a-5p could suppress postoperative metastasis of hepatocellular carcinoma via blocking HGF/ERBB3-NF-κB positive feedback loop and offer a new probable strategy for metastasis prevention after HCC resection.
Keywords: hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), miRNA-17-92 cluster, postoperative metastasis, HGF/ERBB3- NF-κB feedback loop, microenvironment remodeling