Exosomal miR-141 promotes tumor angiogenesis via KLF12 in small cell lung cancer

Lung Cancer

J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2020 Sep 21;39(1):193. doi: 10.1186/s13046-020-01680-1.


BACKGROUND: Angiogenesis, a basic requirement for tumor cell survival, is considered to be a malignant characteristic of small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and is closely related to the poor outcomes of SCLC patients. miR-141 has been found to play pro- and antiangiogenic roles in different cancers, but its role in SCLC angiogenesis has never been explored.

METHODS: Total RNA was isolated from plasm exosomes and serum of SCLC patients to examine the expression of miR-141 by qRT-PCR. Cell proliferation, invasion, migration, tube formation assay, aortic ring assay and mouse tumor model were used to investigate the effect of exosomal miR-141 in angiogenesis in vitro and in vivo. Dual-luciferase assay was conducted to explore the target gene of miR-141.

RESULTS: Circulating miR-141 was upregulated in samples from 122 SCLC patients compared with those from normal volunteers and that the increase in miR-141 was significantly associated with advanced TNM stages, implying the potential oncogenic role of miR-141 in SCLC malignancy. In vitro, miR-141 that was packaged into SCLC cell-secreted exosomes and delivered to human umbilical vein vascular endothelial cells (HUVECs) via exosomes facilitated HUVEC proliferation, invasion, migration and tube formation and promoted microvessel sprouting from mouse aortic rings. Matrigel plug assays demonstrated that SCLC cell-derived exosomal miR-141 induced neoangiogenesis in vivo. Furthermore, mouse subcutaneous tumor nodules that were developed from miR-141-overexpressing SCLC cells had a higher microvessel density (MVD) and grew faster than those developed from negative control cells. KLF12 was found to be the direct target gene of miR-141 and that the proangiogenic effect of miR-141 on HUVECs was abrogated by KLF12 overexpression.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results demonstrate the specific function of the exosomal miR-141/KLF12 pathway in SCLC angiogenesis for the first time and provide potential novel targets for antiangiogenic therapies for SCLC patients.