Transcription factor/microRNA axis blocks melanoma invasion program by miR-211 targeting NUAK1

Rachel E. Bell, Mehdi Khaled, Dvir Netanely, Steffen Schubert, Tamar Golan, Amir Buxbaum, Maja M. Janas, Benny Postolsky, Michael S. Goldberg, Ron Shamir, Carmit Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Melanoma is one of the deadliest human cancers, responsible for approximately 80% of skin cancer mortalities. The aggressiveness of melanoma is due to its capacity to proliferate and rapidly invade surrounding tissues, leading to metastases. A recent model suggests melanoma progresses by reversibly switching between proliferation and invasion transcriptional signatures. Recent studies show that cancer cells are more sensitive to microRNA (miRNA) perturbation than are non-cancer cells; however, the roles of miRNAs in melanoma plasticity remain unexplored. Here, we use the gene expression profiles of melanoma and normal melanocytes to characterize the transcription factor-miRNA relationship that modulates the proliferative and invasive programs of melanoma. We identified two sets of miRNAs that likely regulate these programs. Interestingly, one of the miRNAs involved in melanoma invasion is miR-211, a known target of the master regulator microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF). We demonstrate that miR-211 contributes to melanoma adhesion by directly targeting a gene, NUAK1. Inhibition of miR-211 increases NUAK1 expression and decreases melanoma adhesion, whereas upregulation of miR-211 restores adhesion through NUAK1 repression. This study defines the MITF/miR-211 axis that inhibits the invasive program by blocking adhesion. Furthermore, we have identified NUAK1 as a potential target for the treatment of metastatic melanoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-451
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014


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