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Egea, Virginia; Kessenbrock, Kai; Lawson, Devon; Bartelt, Alexander; Weber, Christian and Ries, Christian (2021): Let-7f miRNA regulates SDF-1α- and hypoxia-promoted migration of mesenchymal stem cells and attenuates mammary tumor growth upon exosomal release. In: Cell death & disease, Vol. 12, No. 6, 516 [PDF, 3MB]


Bone marrow-derived human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) are recruited to damaged or inflamed tissues where they contribute to tissue repair. This multi-step process involves chemokine-directed invasion of hMSCs and on-site release of factors that influence target cells or tumor tissues. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms are largely unclear. Previously, we described that microRNA let-7f controls hMSC differentiation. Here, we investigated the role of let-7f in chemotactic invasion and paracrine anti-tumor effects. Incubation with stromal cell-derived factor-1α (SDF-1α) or inflammatory cytokines upregulated let-7f expression in hMSCs. Transfection of hMSCs with let-7f mimics enhanced CXCR4-dependent invasion by augmentation of pericellular proteolysis and release of matrix metalloproteinase-9. Hypoxia-induced stabilization of the hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha in hMSCs promoted cell invasion via let-7f and activation of autophagy. Dependent on its endogenous level, let-7f facilitated hMSC motility and invasion through regulation of the autophagic flux in these cells. In addition, secreted let-7f encapsulated in exosomes was increased upon upregulation of endogenous let-7f by treatment of the cells with SDF-1α, hypoxia, or induction of autophagy. In recipient 4T1 tumor cells, hMSC-derived exosomal let-7f attenuated proliferation and invasion. Moreover, implantation of 3D spheroids composed of hMSCs and 4T1 cells into a breast cancer mouse model demonstrated that hMSCs overexpressing let-7f inhibited tumor growth in vivo. Our findings provide evidence that let-7f is pivotal in the regulation of hMSC invasion in response to inflammation and hypoxia, suggesting that exosomal let-7f exhibits paracrine anti-tumor effects.

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