High-throughput screens identify microRNAs essential for HER2 positive breast cancer cell growth

Suvi-Katri Leivonen (Corresponding Author), Kristine Kleivi Sahlberg, Rami Mäkelä, Eldri Undlien Due, Olli Kallioniemi, Anne-Lise Børresen-Dale, Merja Perälä

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

146 Citations (Scopus)


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are non-coding RNAs regulating gene expression post-transcriptionally. We have characterized the role of miRNAs in regulating the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-pathway in breast cancer. We performed miRNA gain-of-function assays by screening two HER2 amplified cell lines (KPL-4 and JIMT-1) with a miRNA mimic library consisting of 810 human miRNAs. The levels of HER2, phospho-AKT, phospho-ERK1/2, cell proliferation (Ki67) and apoptosis (cPARP) were analyzed with reverse-phase protein arrays. Rank product analyses identified 38 miRNAs (q <0.05) as inhibitors of HER2 signaling and cell growth, the most effective being miR-491-5p, miR-634, miR-637 and miR-342-5p. We also characterized miRNAs directly targeting HER2 and identified seven novel miRNAs (miR-552, miR-541, miR-193a-5p, miR-453, miR-134, miR-498, and miR-331-3p) as direct regulators of the HER2 3'UTR. We demonstrated the clinical relevance of the miRNAs and identified miR-342-5p and miR-744* as significantly down-regulated in HER2-positive breast tumors as compared to HER2-negative tumors from two cohorts of breast cancer patients (101 and 1302 cases). miR-342-5p specifically inhibited HER2-positive cell growth, as it had no effect on the growth of HER2-negative control cells in vitro. Furthermore, higher expression of miR-342-5p was associated with better survival in both breast cancer patient cohorts. In conclusion, we have identified miRNAs which are efficient negative regulators of the HER2 pathway that may play a role in vivo during breast cancer progression. These results give mechanistic insights in HER2 regulation which may open potential new strategies towards prevention and therapeutic inhibition of HER2-positive breast cancer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-104
JournalMolecular Oncology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • breast cancer
  • functional screen
  • HER2
  • MicroRNA
  • reverse-phase protein array


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