The Tbx3 transcription factor is over-expressed in breast cancer, where it has been implicated in proliferation, migration and regulation of the cancer stem cell population. The mechanisms that regulate Tbx3 expression in cancer have not been fully explored. In this study, we demonstrate that Tbx3 is repressed by the tumour suppressor miR-206 in breast cancer cells.
Bioinformatics prediction programmes and luciferase reporter assays were used to demonstrate that miR-206 negatively regulates Tbx3. We examined the impact of miR-206 on Tbx3 expression in breast cancer cells using miR-206 mimic and inhibitor. Gene/protein expression was examined by quantitative reverse-transcription–PCR and immunoblotting. The effects of miR-206 and Tbx3 on apoptosis, proliferation, invasion and cancer stem cell population was investigated by cell-death detection, colony formation, 3D-Matrigel and tumorsphere assays.
In this study, we examined the regulation of Tbx3 by miR-206. We demonstrate that Tbx3 is directly repressed by miR-206, and that this repression of Tbx3 is necessary for miR-206 to inhibit breast tumour cell proliferation and invasion, and decrease the cancer stem cell population. Moreover, Tbx3 and miR-206 expression are inversely correlated in human breast cancer. Kaplan–Meier analysis indicates that patients exhibiting a combination of high Tbx3 and low miR-206 expression have a lower probability of survival when compared with patients with low Tbx3 and high miR-206 expression. These studies uncover a novel mechanism of Tbx3 regulation and identify a new target of the tumour suppressor miR-206.
The present study identified Tbx3 as a novel target of tumour suppressor miR-206 and characterised the miR-206/Tbx3 signalling pathway, which is involved in proliferation, invasion and maintenance of the cancer stem cell population in breast cancer cells. Our results suggest that restoration of miR-206 in Tbx3-positive breast cancer could be exploited for therapeutic benefit.