Upregulation of miR-21 (microRNA-21) and downregulation of miR-34b/c have been found in breast cancer (BC). However, their regulation mechanism and function roles in BC have not been fully addressed. Here, we report that miR-21 levels were inversely correlated with miR-34b/c levels in BC. MiR-21 upregulation contributes to PTEN downregulation, which is beneficial for the activation of PI3K/AKT signaling. The activation of AKT phosphorylates FOXO3a, triggering relocalization of FOXO3a proteins from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. FOXO3a is a newly identified transcription factor responsible for miR-34b/c expression. Downregulation of nuclear FOXO3a decreased the expression levels of miR-34b and miR-34c in breast cancer cells, in which p53 was mutated. We also found upregulation of circulating miR-21 and downregulation of circulating miR-34b/c in BC patients’ serum. More importantly, we showed that systemic delivery of miR-34b/c or with anti-miR-21 significantly inhibited breast tumor growth in vivo
. These results suggest that high circulating levels of miR-21 and low levels of miR-34b/c may provide potential biomarkers for BC diagnosis, and systemic delivery of miR-34b/c has potential as a therapeutic option for BC treatment.
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