Tumor-stromal interaction is a dynamic process that promotes tumor growth and metastasis via cell-cell interaction and extracellular vesicles. Recent studies demonstrate that stromal fibroblast-derived molecular signatures can be used to predict disease progression and drug resistance. To identify the epigenetic role of stromal noncoding RNAs in tumor-stromal interactions in the tumor microenvironment, we performed microRNA profiling of patient cancer-associated prostate stromal fibroblasts isolated by laser capture dissection microscopy and in bone-associated stromal models. We found specific upregulation of miR-409-3p and miR-409-5p located within the embryonically and developmentally regulated DLK1-DIO3 (delta-like 1 homolog-deiodinase, iodothyronine 3) cluster on human chromosome 14. The findings in cell lines were further validated in human prostate cancer tissues. Strikingly, ectopic expression of miR-409 in normal prostate fibroblasts conferred a cancer-associated stroma-like phenotype and led to the release of miR-409 via extracellular vesicles to promote tumor induction and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in vitro and in vivo. miR-409 promoted tumorigenesis through repression of tumor suppressor genes such as Ras suppressor 1 and stromal antigen 2. Thus, stromal fibroblasts derived miR-409-induced tumorigenesis, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and stemness of the epithelial cancer cells in vivo. Therefore, miR-409 appears to be an attractive therapeutic target to block the vicious cycle of tumor-stromal interactions that plagues prostate cancer patients.
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