miR-153 supports colorectal cancer progression via pleiotropic effects that enhance invasion and chemotherapeutic resistance

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Although microRNAs (miRNA) have been broadly studied in cancer, comparatively less is understood about their role in progression. Here we report that miR-153 has a dual role during progression of colorectal cancer by enhancing cellular invasiveness and platinum-based chemotherapy resistance. miRNA profiling revealed that miR-153 was highly expressed in a cellular model of advanced stage colorectal cancer. Its upregulation was also noted in primary human colorectal cancer compared with normal colonic epithelium and in more advanced colorectal cancer stages compared with early stage disease. In colorectal cancer patients followed for 50 months, 21 of 30 patients with high levels of miR-153 had disease progression compared with others in this group with low levels of miR-153. Functional studies revealed that miR-153 upregulation increased colorectal cancer invasiveness and resistance to oxaliplatin and cisplatin both in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistic investigations indicated that miR-153 promoted invasiveness indirectly by inducing matrix metalloprotease enzyme 9 production, whereas drug resistance was mediated directly by inhibiting the Forkhead transcription factor Forkhead box O3a (FOXO3a). In support of the latter finding, we found that levels of miR-153 and FOXO3a were inversely correlated in matched human colorectal cancer specimens. Our findings establish key roles for miR-153 overexpression in colorectal cancer progression, rationalizing therapeutic strategies to target expression of this miRNA for colorectal cancer treatment.

Journal details

Journal Cancer Research
Volume 73
Issue number 21
Pages 6435-6447
Publication date


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Crick Corresponding author