• The role of HOXB9 and miR-196a in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

      Darda, L.; Hakami, F.; Morgan, Richard; Murdoch, C.; Lambert, D.W.; Hunter, K.D. (2015-04-10)
      Background - Previous studies have demonstrated that a number of HOX genes, a family of transcription factors with key roles in early development, are up-regulated in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and other cancers. The loci of several Homeobox (HOX) genes also contain microRNAs (miRs), including miR-196a. Methods - Global miR expression and expression of all 39 HOX genes in normal oral keratinocytes (NOKs), oral pre-malignant (OPM) and HNSCC cells was assessed by expression microarray and qPCR and in tissues by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and qPCR of laser microdissected (LCM) tissues. Expression of miR196a and HOXB9 was reduced using anti-miR-196a and siRNA, respectively. Expression microarray profiles of anti-miR196a and pre-miR196a transfected cells were compared to parental cells in order to identify novel targets of miR- 196a. Putative miR196a targets were validated by qPCR and were confirmed as binding to the 3’UTR of miR196a by a dual luciferase reporter assay combined with mutational analysis of the miR-196a binding site. Results - miR-196a and HOXB9 are highly expressed in HNSCC compared to NOKs, a pattern also seen in HNSCC tissues by HOXB9 IHC and qPCR of miR-196a in LCM tissue. Knock-down of miR-196a expression decreased HNSCC cell migration, invasion and adhesion to fibronectin, but had no effect on proliferation. Furthermore, knock-down of HOXB9 expression decreased migration, invasion and proliferation but did not alter adhesion. We identified a novel primary mRNA transcript containing HOXB9 and miR196a-1 as predicted from in-silico analysis. Expression array analysis identified a number of miR196a targets, including MAMDC2 and HOXC8. We confirmed that MAMDC2 is a novel miR-196a target using a dual luciferase reporter assay with the effect abolished on mutation of the binding site. Conclusions - These results show that miR-196a and HOXB9 are overexpressed, perhaps co-ordinately, as HNSCC develops and exert a pro-tumourigenic phenotype in HNSCC and OPM cells.