Silencing of miRNA-148a by hypermethylation activates the integrin-mediated signaling pathway in nasopharyngeal carcinoma

Hsin Pai Li*, Hsin Yi Huang, Yi Ru Lai, Jing Xuan Huang, Kai Ping Chang, Chuen Hsueh, Yu Sun Chang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

40 Scopus citations


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play a pivotal role in carcinogenesis by suppressing oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes. Various studies have identified numerous miRNAs and their diverse targets; however, the consequences of dysregulated miRNAs in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) remain unclear. For this study, we found that miR-148a is downregulated through hypermethylation in NPC biopsies and NPC cell lines compared with adjacent normal and NP cells respectively. Promoter assays demonstrated that upstream stimulatory factor 1 (USF1) is a crucial transcription factor that activates miR-148a promoter activity. EMSA assays confirmed that purified USF1 binds better toward the unmethylated than the methylated CG-containing USF1 consensus probe. The ectopic expression of miR-148a inhibits cell migration in NPC cells through the suppression of integrin-mediated signaling by targeting VAV2, WASL and ROCK1. Biochemical and functional assays provided supporting evidence that these 3 genes are the downstream targets of miR-148a in NPC cells. Furthermore, immunohistochemical staining and Western blotting analysis revealed that the 3 oncogenic targets of miR-148a were overexpressed in NPC biopsies, suggesting that the inactivation of miR-148a caused by DNA methylation promotes NPC progression. Overall, our findings revealed that miR-148a can act as tumor suppressor miRNA and serve as a biomarker as well as a therapeutic target for NPC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7610-7624
Number of pages15
Issue number17
StatePublished - 2014


  • DNA methylation
  • Integrin-signaling pathway
  • Migration
  • Nasopharyngeal carcinoma
  • miR-148a


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