Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are linked to metastasis. Moreover, a discrete group of miRNAs (metastamiRs) has been shown to promote metastasis. Accordingly, we propose that miRNAs that function as metastatic promoters may influence the CSC phenotype. To study this issue, we compared the expression of 353 miRNAs in CSCs enriched from breast cancer cell lines using qRT–PCR analysis. One of the most altered miRNAs was miR‐10b, which is a reported promoter of metastasis and migration. Stable overexpression of miR‐10b in MCF‐7 cells (miR‐10b‐OE cells) promoted higher self‐renewal and expression of stemness and epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) markers. In agreement with these results, inhibiting miR‐10b expression using synthetic antisense RNAs resulted in a decrease in CSCs self‐renewal. Bioinformatics analyses identified several potential miR‐10b mRNA targets, including phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN), a key regulator of the PI3K/AKT pathway involved in metastasis, cell survival, and self‐renewal. The targeting of PTEN by miR‐10b was confirmed using a luciferase reporter, qRT–PCR, and Western blot analyses. Lower PTEN levels were observed in CSCs, and miR‐10b depletion not only increased PTEN mRNA and protein expression but also decreased the activity of AKT, a downstream PTEN target kinase. Correspondingly, PTEN knockdown increased stem cell markers, whereas AKT inhibitors compromised the self‐renewal ability of CSCs and breast cancer cell lines overexpressing miR‐10b. In conclusion, miR‐10b regulates the self‐renewal of the breast CSC phenotype by inhibiting PTEN and maintaining AKT pathway activation.
The oncogenic microRNA miR‐10b regulates the stem phenotype of breast cancer cells. This is accomplished by targeting the PTEN tumor suppressor gene, which in turns increases the activation of Akt.
miR‐10b is overexpressed in breast cancer stem cells.
It regulates the number of stem cells and stem cell markers in breast cancer cell lines.
miR‐10b targets PTEN, which in turn activates Akt. PTEN is needed for the effects of miR‐10b on the stem phenotype.
EMBO Reports (2016) 17: 648–658
- Received May 20, 2015.
- Revision received February 20, 2016.
- Accepted March 4, 2016.
- © 2016 The Authors