Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Loss of miR-133a expression associated with poor survival of breast cancer and restoration of miR-133a expression inhibited breast cancer cell growth and invasion

Zheng-sheng Wu12, Chao-qun Wang13, Ru Xiang1, Xue Liu1, Shan Ye1, Xue-qing Yang1, Gui-hong Zhang1, Xiao-chun Xu14, Tao Zhu5 and Qiang Wu16*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology, Anhui Medical University, Hefei, Anhui, People's Republic of China

2 Department of Pathology, Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, Shanghai, People's Republic of China

3 Department of Pathology, Dongyang People's Hospital, Dongyang, Zhejiang, People's Republic of China

4 Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas

5 School of Life Science, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, Anhui, People's Republic of China

6 Department of Pathology, Anhui Medical University, 81 Meishan Road, Hefei 230032, China

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BMC Cancer 2012, 12:51  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-51

Published: 1 February 2012



miRNAs, endogenous oligonucleotide RNAs, play an important role in mammary gland carcinogenesis and tumor progression. Detection of their expression and investigation of their functions could lead to discovery of novel biomarkers for breast cancer.


In situ hybridization was used to detect miR-133a expression in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded breast surgical specimens from 26 benign, 34 pericancerously normal and 90 cancerous tissues. qRT-PCR was performed to assess miR-133a levels in 6 breast cell lines and 10 benign and 18 cancerous fresh breast tissue specimens. Cell viability, migration, and invasion assays were used to determine the role of miR-133a in regulation of breast cancer cell growth, migration, and invasion, respectively. Luciferase assay was performed to assess miR-133a binding to FSCN1 gene.


Expression of miR-133a was reduced from normal through benign to cancerous breast tissues. Expression of miR-133a was also low in breast cancer cell lines. The reduced miR-133a expression was associated with lymph nodes metastasis, high clinical stages, and shorter relapse-free survivals of patients with breast cancer. Furthermore, transfection of miR-133a oligonucleotides slightly inhibited growth but significantly decreased migration and invasion capacity of breast cancer cells, compared with negative controls, whereas knockdown of miR-133a expression induced breast cancer cell migration and invasion. In addition, we identified a putative miR-133a binding site in the 3'-untranslated region (UTR) of Fascin1 (FSCN1) gene using an online bioinformatical tool. We found that miR-133a transfection significantly reduced expression of FSCN1 mRNA and protein. The luciferase reporter assay confirmed that FSCN1 was the direct target gene of miR-133a.


miR-133a expression was lost in breast cancer tissues, loss of which was associated with lymph nodes metastasis, high clinical stages and shorter relapse-free survivals of patients with breast cancer. Functionally, miR-133a can suppress tumor cell invasion and migration and targeted the expression of FSCN1. Future study will verify whether detection of miR-133a expression can served as a novel biomarker for breast cancer progression and patient prognosis.

Breast cancer; miRNA; miR-133a; Tumor cell invasion; Fascin1; Prognosis