Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a key step toward metastasis. MCF7 breast cancer cells conditionally expressing the EMT master regulator SNAI1 were used to identify early expressed microRNAs (miRNAs) and their targets that may contribute to the EMT process. Potential targets of miRNAs were identified by matching lists of in silico predicted targets and of inversely expressed mRNAs. MiRNAs were ranked based on the number of predicted hits, highlighting miR-661, a miRNA with so far no reported role in EMT. MiR-661 was found required for efficient invasion of breast cancer cells by destabilizing two of its predicted mRNA targets, the cell–cell adhesion protein Nectin-1 and the lipid transferase StarD10, resulting, in turn, in the downregulation of epithelial markers. Reexpression of Nectin-1 or StarD10 lacking the 3′-untranslated region counteracted SNAI1-induced invasion. Importantly, analysis of public transcriptomic data from a cohort of 295 well-characterized breast tumor specimen revealed that expression of StarD10 is highly associated with markers of luminal subtypes whereas its loss negatively correlated with the EMT-related, basal-like subtype. Collectively, our non-a priori approach revealed a nonpredicted link between SNAI1-triggered EMT and the down-regulation of Nectin-1 and StarD10 through the up-regulation of miR-661, which may contribute to the invasion of breast cancer cells and poor disease outcome.
Vetter G, Saumet A, Moes M, Vallar L, Le Béchec A, Laurini C, Sabbah M, Arar K, Theillet C, Lecellier CH, Friederich E. (2010) miR-661 expression in SNAI1-induced epithelial to mesenchymal transition contributes to breast cancer cell invasion by targeting Nectin-1 and StarD10 messengers. Oncogene [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]