Pathological markers that can monitor the progression of gastric cancer (GC) may facilitate the diagnosis and treatment of patients with diffuse GC (DGC). To identify microRNAs (miRNAs) that can differentiate between early and advanced DGC in the gastric mucosa, miRNA expression profiling was performed using the NanoString nCounter method in human DGC tumors. Ectopic expression of miR-199a and miR-199b (miR-199a/b) in SNU601 human GC cells accelerated the growth rate, viability, and motility of cancer cells and increased the tumor volume and weight in a mouse xenograft model. To study their clinicopathological roles in patients with GC, miR-199a/b levels were measured in human GC tumor samples using in situ hybridization. High miR-199a/b expression level was associated with enhanced lymphovascular invasion, advanced T stage, and lymph-node metastasis. Using the 3′-untranslated region (UTR) luciferase assay, Frizzled-6 (FZD6) was confirmed to be a direct target of miR-199a/b in GC cells. siRNA-mediated depletion of FZD6 enhanced the motility of SNU601 cells, and addback of FZD6 restored cancer cell motility stimulated by miR-199a/b. In conclusion, miR-199a/b promotes DGC progression by targeting FZD6, implying that miR-199a/b can be used as prognostic and diagnostic biomarkers for the disease.
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