MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that play a crucial role in pathogenesis of human cancers. Several miRNAs have been shown to involve in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) pathogenesis through alteration of gene networks. A global view of the miRNA expression profile of clinical specimens would be the best way to screen out the possible miRNA candidates that may be involved in disease pathogenesis. In this study, we investigated the expression profiles of miRNA in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues from patients with undifferentiated NPC versus non-NPC controls using a miRNA real-time PCR platform, which covered a total of 95 cancer-related miRNAs. Hierarchical cluster analysis revealed that NPC and non-NPC controls were clearly segregated. Promisingly, 10 miRNA candidates were differentially expressed. Among them, 9 miRNAs were significantly up-regulated of which miR-205 and miR-196a showed the most up-regulated in NPC with the highest incidence percentage of 94.1% and 88.2%, respectively, while the unique down-regulated miR-150 was further validated in patient sera. Finally, the in vitro gain-of-function and loss-of-function assays revealed that miR-150 can modulate the epithelial-mesenchymal-transition property in NPC/HK-1 cells and led to the cell motility and invasion. miR-150 may be a potential biomarker for NPC and plays a critical role in NPC tumourigenesis.
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