Background: Metastasized melanoma is extremely difficult to treat. Activation of C-C chemokine receptor type 7 (CCR7) has been linked to melanoma metastasis. CCR7 can be directly regulated by miR-let-7. We have previously shown that an ethanolic extract of an herbal formula comprising Sophorae Flos and Lonicerae Japonicae Flos (SLE) inhibits melanoma cell migration and invasion.
Purpose: In this study, we determined whether SLE suppresses melanoma metastasis, and whether regulation of miR-let-7a/f-CCR7 signaling is involved in the effect.
Study design and methods: Small RNA sequencing was conducted to compare miRNA expression profiles of B16F10 tumors dissected from SLE-treated or untreated mice. Western blot and RT-qPCR analyses were employed to examine protein and miRNA levels, respectively. A B16F10 melanoma lung metastasis mouse model was used to evaluate the effects of SLE on melanoma metastasis. MiR-let-7a/f-knockdown and CCR7-overexpression cell models were used to investigate the involvement of miR-let-7a/f-CCR7 signaling in the anti-metastatic effects of SLE.
Results: It was found that SLE upregulated levels of miR-let-7a/f in B16F10 melanoma tissues. SLE significantly elevated levels of miR-let-7a/f, lowered the protein level of CCR7, inhibited the phosphorylation of CCR7 downstream molecules p38 and JNK in B16F10 and A375 melanoma cells. SLE inhibited B16F10 melanoma lung metastasis in mice. SLE upregulated levels of miR-let-7a/f, and lowered protein levels of CCR7, MMP-2, MMP-9, phospho-p38 (Thr180/Tyr182) and phospho-JNK (Thr183/Tyr185) in melanoma-invaded lung tissues. Knockdown of miR-let-7a/f diminished the effects of SLE on CCR7 signaling in, and invasion of, melanoma cells. Overexpression of CCR7 lessened the effects of SLE in inhibiting the phosphorylation of p38 and JNK in, and the invasive capability of, melanoma cells.
Conclusion: We for the first time demonstrated that SLE inhibits melanoma metastasis in mice, and that regulation of the miR-let-7a/f-CCR7 pathway contributes to the anti-metastatic mechanisms of SLE. These findings provide a pharmacological basis for developing SLE as a modern agent for treating metastatic melanoma. Additionally and importantly, this study suggests that regulating the miR-let-7a/f-CCR7 pathway is a novel strategy for controlling melanoma metastasis.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Molecular Medicine
- Pharmaceutical Science
- Drug Discovery
- Complementary and alternative medicine
- Lonicerae Japonicae Flos
- Melanoma metastasis
- Sophorae Flos