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This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in: Oncotarget.

Volume 7, Issue 7, 2016, Pages 7683-7700.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.6524

Copyright © 2015 The Authors


Discoidin Domain Receptor 1 (DDR1) is a collagen receptor tyrosine-kinase that contributes to epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and enhances cancer progression. Our previous data indicate that, in breast cancer cells, DDR1 interacts with IGF-1R and positively modulates IGF-1R expression and biological responses, suggesting that the DDR1-IGF-IR cross-talk may play an important role in cancer.In this study, we set out to evaluate whether IGF-I stimulation may affect DDR1 expression. Indeed, in breast cancer cells (MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231) IGF-I induced significant increase of DDR1 protein expression, in a time and dose dependent manner. However, we did not observe parallel changes in DDR1 mRNA. DDR1 upregulation required the activation of the PI3K/AKT pathway while the ERK1/2, the p70/mTOR and the PKC pathways were not involved. Moreover, we observed that DDR1 protein upregulation was induced by translational mechanisms involving miR-199a-5p suppression through PI3K/AKT activation. This effect was confirmed by both IGF-II produced by cancer-associated fibroblasts from human breast cancer and by stable transfection of breast cancer cells with a human IGF-II expression construct. Transfection with a constitutively active form of AKT was sufficient to decrease miR-199a-5p and upregulate DDR1. Accordingly, IGF-I-induced DDR1 upregulation was inhibited by transfection with pre-miR-199a-5p, which also impaired AKT activation and cell migration and proliferation in response to IGF-I.These results demonstrate that, in breast cancer cells, a novel pathway involving AKT/miR-199a-5p/DDR1 plays a role in modulating IGFs biological responses. Therefore, this signaling pathway may represent an important target for breast cancers with over-activation of the IGF-IR axis.

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