Uncovering Direct Targets of MiR-19a Involved in Lung Cancer Progression

<div><p>Micro RNAs (miRNAs) regulate the expression of target genes posttranscriptionally by pairing incompletely with mRNA in a sequence-specific manner. About 30% of human genes are regulated by miRNAs, and a single miRNA is capable of reducing the production of hundreds of proteins by means of incomplete pairing upon miRNA–mRNA binding. Lately, evidence implicating miRNAs in the development of lung cancers has been emerging. In particular, miR-19a, which is highly expressed in malignant lung cancer cells, is considered the key miRNA for tumorigenesis. However, its direct targets remain underreported. In the present study, we focused on six potential miR-19a target genes selected by miRNA target prediction software. To evaluate these genes as direct miR-19a target genes, we performed luciferase, pull-down, and western blot assays. The luciferase activity of plasmids with each miR-19a–binding site was observed to decrease, while increased luciferase activity was observed in the presence of anti-miR-19a locked nucleic acid (LNA). The pull-down assay showed biotinylated miR-19a to bind to AGO2 protein and to four of six potential target mRNAs. Western blot analysis showed that the expression levels of the four genes changed depending on treatment with miR-19a mimic or anti-miR-19a-LNA. Finally, <i>FOXP1</i>, <i>TP53INP1</i>, <i>TNFAIP3</i>, and <i>TUSC2</i> were identified as miR-19a targets. To examine the function of these four target genes in lung cancer cells, LK79 (which has high miR-19a expression) and A549 (which has low miR-19a expression) were used. The expression of the four target proteins was higher in A549 than in LK79 cells. The four miR-19a target cDNA expression vectors suppressed cell viability, colony formation, migration, and invasion of A549 and LK79 cells, but LK79 cells transfected with <i>FOXP1</i> and <i>TP53INP1</i> cDNAs showed no difference compared to the control cells in the invasion assay.</p></div>