A new molecular marker of carcinoma in the urinary bladder is needed as a diagnostic tool or as a therapeutic target. Potential markers include microRNAs (miRNAs), which are short, low molecular weight RNAs 19–24 nt long that regulate genes associated with cell proliferation, differentiation, and development in various cancers. In this study, we investigated the molecular mechanisms by which miR-145 promotes survival of urothelial carcinoma cells and differentiation into multiple lineages. We found miR-145 to regulate expression of syndecan-1, a heparin sulfate proteoglycan.
Cell proliferation in the human urothelial carcinoma cell lines T24 and KU7 was assessed by MTS assay. Cellular senescence and apoptosis were measured by senescence-associated β-galactosidase (SA-β-gal) and TUNEL assay, respectively. Quantitative RT-PCR was used to measure mRNA expression of various genes, including syndecan-1, stem cell factors, and markers of differentiation into squamous, glandular, or neuroendocrine cells.
Overexpression of miR-145 induced cell senescence, and thus significantly inhibited cell proliferation in T24 and KU7 cells. Syndecan-1 expression diminished, whereas stem cell markers such as SOX2, NANOG, OCT4, and E2F3 increased. miR-145 also up-regulated markers of differentiation into squamous (p63, TP63, and CK5), glandular (MUC-1, MUC-2, and MUC-5 AC), and neuroendocrine cells (NSE and UCHL-1). Finally, expression of miR-145 was down-regulated in high-grade urothelial carcinomas, but not in low-grade tumors.
Results indicate that miR-145 suppresses syndecan-1 and, by this mechanism, up-regulates stem cell factors and induces cell senescence and differentiation. We propose that miR-145 may confer stem cell-like properties on urothelial carcinoma cells and thus facilitate differentiation into multiple cell types.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12885-015-1846-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.