2016 Volume 238 Issue 2 Pages 143-151
Sensitizing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells to irradiation is important to achieve satisfactory therapeutic effect with low-dose radiotherapy. Erythropoietin-producing hepatocellular carcinoma A2 (EphA2) is a member of the Eph receptor family that constitutes the largest family of tyrosine kinase receptors. EphA2 overexpression is one of the poor prognostic factors in many progressive cancers. Importantly, EphA2 is a potential target of microRNA-26b (miR-26b), and miR-26b expression is down-regulated in several types of cancer. In this study, we measured the expression levels of miR-26b and EphA2 protein in seven human HCC cell lines by quantitative PCR and western blot analysis, respectively. Overall, lower miR-26b expression levels tended to be associated with higher EphA2 levels in HCC cell lines. Among the cell lines examined, 97H HCC cells expressed the lowest level of miR-26b and highest level of EphA2 protein. Thus, using 97H HCC cells, EphA2 mRNA was verified as the target of miR-26b by the luciferase reporter assay. Accordingly, a synthetic miR-26b, miR-26b mimics, was used to mimic the function of endogenous miR-26b. In 97H HCC cells transfected with miR-26b mimics or short-hairpin RNA targeting EphA2 mRNA, expression of EphA2 protein was reduced, which was associated with significantly lower proliferation rate and invasion ability and with higher apoptosis rate in response to low-dose irradiation, compared to control cells. In contrast, 97H HCC cells over-expressing EphA2 showed higher proliferation rate and invasion ability and lower apoptosis rate upon irradiation. These data suggest that miR-26b enhances the radiosensitivity of 97H HCC cells by targeting EphA2 protein.