Complete loss of miR-200 family induces EMT associated cellular senescence in gastric cancer

Liang Yu, Can Cao, Xu Li, Mili Zhang, Qisheng Gu, Hugh Gao, Jesse J. Balic, Duogang Xu, Lei Zhang, Le Ying, Dakang Xu, Yuqin Yang, Di Wu, Baokun He, Brendan J. Jenkins, Youdong Liu, Jikun Li

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13 Citations (Scopus)


The EMT (epithelial-to-mesenchymal-transition) subtype of gastric cancer (GC) is associated with poor treatment responses and unfavorable clinical outcomes. Despite the broad physiological roles of the micro-RNA (miR)-200 family, they largely serve to maintain the overall epithelial phenotype. However, during late-stage gastric tumorigenesis, members of the miR-200 family are markedly suppressed, resulting in the transition to the mesenchymal state and the acquisition of invasive properties. As such, the miR-200 family represents a robust molecular marker of EMT, and subsequently, disease severity and prognosis. Most reports have studied the effect of single miR-200 family member knockdown. Here, we employ a multiplex CRISPR/Cas9 system to generate a complete miR-200 family knockout (FKO) to investigate their collective and summative role in regulating key cellular processes during GC pathogenesis. Genetic deletion of all miR-200s in the human GC cell lines induced potent morphological alterations, G1/S cell cycle arrest, increased senescence-associated β-galactosidase (SA-β−Gal) activity, and aberrant metabolism, collectively resembling the senescent phenotype. Coupling RNA-seq data with publicly available datasets, we revealed a clear separation of senescent and non-senescent states amongst FKO cells and control cells, respectively. Further analysis identified key senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) components in FKO cells and a positive feedback loop for maintenance of the senescent state controlled by activation of TGF-β and TNF-α pathways. Finally, we showed that miR-200 FKO associated senescence in cancer epithelial cells significantly recruited stromal cells in the tumor microenvironment. Our work has identified a new role of miR-200 family members which function as an integrated unit serving to link senescence with EMT, two major conserved biological processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-36
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2022

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