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PURPOSE: MicroRNA (miRNA) expression alterations have been described in cancer. Many cancers are characterized by areas of hypoxia, enhanced hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) levels, and increased expression of hypoxically regulated genes, all of which correlate with patient outcome. We examined hypoxia-induced miRNA expression changes to identify markers of survival in breast cancer. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: We used microarrays to analyze miRNA expression changes induced by hypoxia in MCF7 breast cancer cell lines and validated results by quantitative-PCR (Q-PCR). Small interfering RNA against HIF-1alpha and HIF-2alpha, and RCC4 cells transfected with the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) protein were used to investigate HIF dependency of miRNA expression. miRNA Q-PCR assays were done on 219 early breast cancer samples with long-term follow-up. Correlation of expression with clinical variables was done using Pearson and Spearman's rank tests, univariate, and Cox multivariate analysis. RESULTS: hsa-miR-210 induction was the most significant change under hypoxia by microarray analysis (3.4-fold, P < 0.001). hsa-miR-210 expression changes were validated by Q-PCR and detected in other cancer cell lines. Using small interfering RNAs and RCC4 cells transfected with VHL, we showed that the regulation by hypoxia of hsa-miR-210 was mediated by the HIF-1alpha/VHL transcriptional system but not HIF-2alpha. hsa-miR-210 expression levels in breast cancer samples correlated directly with a hypoxia score based on the expression of 99 genes. hsa-miR-210 expression levels showed an inverse correlation with disease-free and overall survival, significant in both univariate and multivariate analyses. CONCLUSIONS: We show that hsa-miR-210 overexpression is induced by hypoxia in a HIF-1alpha- and VHL-dependent fashion and its expression levels in breast cancer samples are an independent prognostic factor.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Cancer Res

Publication Date





1340 - 1348


Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors, Biomarkers, Tumor, Breast Neoplasms, Cell Line, Tumor, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic, Humans, Hypoxia, Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit, MicroRNAs, Middle Aged, Prognosis, RNA, Small Interfering, Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction, Transfection, Tumor Cells, Cultured, Von Hippel-Lindau Tumor Suppressor Protein