EBV-miR-BART8-3p induces epithelial-mesenchymal transition and promotes metastasis of nasopharyngeal carcinoma cells through activating NF-κB and Erk1/2 pathways

Cheng Lin, Jingfeng Zong, Wansong Lin, Minghui Wang, Yuanji Xu, Rui Zhou, Shaojun Lin, Qiaojuan Guo, Honglin Chen, Yunbin Ye, Bin Zhang, Jianji Pan

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67 Scopus citations


Background: Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is ubiquitously associated with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). EBV encodes two groups of microRNAs (miRNAs) which are divided into BamHI fragment H rightward open reading frame 1 (BHRF1) and BamHI-A rightward transcripts (BART) microRNAs. EBV miR-BART has been found to be involved in the development and progression of NPC. However, so far the role of EBV-miR-BART8-3p in NPC progression remains unknown. This study aimed to investigate the role of EBV-miR-BART8-3p in NPC and explore the underlying mechanisms. Methods: miRNA expression was profiled in NPC and normal nasopharyngeal mucosal specimens using miRNA sequencing. EBV-miR-BART8-3p and RNF38 expression was quantified with qPCR assay. The migration, invasion and metastasis of NPC cells were evaluated using CCK-8, colony-forming, wound-healing, and migration and invasion assays. The expression levels of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-related markers,metastasis-related markers and NF-κB and Erk1/2 signaling proteins were determined using Western blotting. Tumorigenic assay was performed to evaluate the pulmonary metastatic ability of NPC cells in vivo. Results: EBV BART miRNAs were highly over-expressed and co-expressed in NPC and might be associated with deactivated immune response in NPC according to the sequencing analysis. EBV-miR-BART8-3p expression was significantly higher in human NPC specimens than in normal nasopharyngeal mucosal specimens. EBV-miR-BART8-3p was found to promote NPC migration, invasion and metastasis, drove an EMT process and upregulated expression of metastasis-related proteins expression in NPC cells. Our data showed EBV-miR-BART8-3p directly targeted RNF38 in NPC cells. Conclusion: The present study demonstrates that EBV-miR-BART8-3p plays a significant role in inducing EMT and promoting metastasis through directly targeting RNF38 in NPC cells via the activation of NF-κB and Erk1/2 signaling pathways. Our findings suggest that EBV-miR-BART8-3p is a potential therapeutic target for NPC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number283
JournalJournal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 26 Nov 2018


  • EBV-miR-BART8-3p
  • Epithelial-mesenchymal transition
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • Erk1/2 signaling
  • Metastasis
  • NF-κB signaling
  • Nasopharyngeal carcinoma


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