We show that Cyclooxygenase-2 over-expression induces an oncogenic microRNA miR655 in human breast cancer cells by activation of EP4. MiR655 expression positively correlated with COX-2 in genetically disparate breast cancer cell lines and increased in all cell lines when grown as spheroids, implicating its link with stem-like cells (SLCs). Ectopic miR655 over-expression in MCF7 and SKBR3 cells resulted in increased proliferation, migration, invasion, spheroid formation and Epithelial to Masenchymal transition (EMT). Conversely, knocking down miR655 in aggressive MCF7-COX2 and SKBR3-COX2 cells reverted these phenotypes. MCF7-miR655 cells displayed upregulated NOTCH/ WNT genes; both pathway inhibitors abrogated miR655-induced spheroid formation, linking miR655 with SLC-related pathways. MiR655 expression was dependent on EP4 activity and EP4 downstream signaling pathways PI3K/AKT, ERK and NF-kB and led to TGF beta resistance for Smad3 phosphorylation. Tail vein injection of MCF7-miR655 and SKBR3-miR655 cells in NOD/SCID/GUSB-null mice revealed increased lung colony growth and micrometastases to liver and spleen. MiR655 expression was significantly high in human breast tumors (n = 105) compared to non-tumor tissues (n = 20) and associated with reduced patient survival. Thus miR655 could serve as a prognostic breast cancer biomarker.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/david_hess/1/