MicroRNA-138 Suppresses Neutrophil Gelatinase-Associated Lipocalin Expression and Inhibits Tumorigenicity

Ying Chu Lee, Woan Fang Tzeng, Tzeon Jye Chiou, Sin Tak Chu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The expression of neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) is up-regulated in some cancers; therefore NGAL has potential as a tumor biomarker. Although the regulation mechanism for this is unknown, one study has shown that it is likely to involve a microRNA (miRNA). Here, we investigate the relation between miRNA expression and NGAL expression, and the role of NGAL in tumorigenesis. Using miRNA target-detecting software, we analyze the mRNA sequence of NGAL and identify a target site for microRNA-138 (miR-138) in nucleotides 25-53 of the 3′ UTR. We then analyze NGAL and miR-138 expression in three cancer cell lines originating from breast, endometrial and pancreatic carcinomas (the MCF-7, RL95-2 and AsPC-1 cell lines), respectively, using quantitative (real-time) PCR and western blot analysis. Metastasis is a critical event in cancer progression, in which malignant cell proliferation, migration and invasion increase. To determine whether miR-138-regulated NGAL expression is associated with metastasis, the proliferation and migration of the cell line are examined after miR-138 transfection. Using nude mice, we examine both the tumorigenicity of these cell lines and of miR-138-transfected cancer cells in vivo, as well as the effect of treating tumors with an antibody against NGAL. Our results show that these cancer cell lines down-regulate NGAL when miR-138 is highly expressed. Ectopic transfection of miR-138 suppresses NGAL expression and cell migration in RL95-2 and AsPC-1 cells, demonstrating that miR-138-regulated NGAL expression is associated with cell migration. Additionally, injection of the NGAL antibody diminishes NGAL-mediated tumorigenesis in nude mice, and miR-138 transfection of cancer cells reduces tumor formation. As the cell proliferation data showed that the tumor size should be regulated by NGAL-related cell growth. Taken together, our results indicate that NGAL may be a good target for cancer therapy and suggest that miR-138 acts as a tumor suppressor and may prevent metastasis.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere52979
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 31 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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