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This article is the author’s final published version in Cancers, Volume 13, Issue 4, February 2021, Article number 888.

The published version is available at Copyright © Dan et al.


Breast cancer (BrCa) relies on specific microRNAs to drive disease progression. Oncogenic miR-21 is upregulated in many cancers, including BrCa, and is associated with poor survival and treatment resistance. We sought to determine the role of miR-21 in BrCa tumor initiation, progression and treatment response. In a triple-negative BrCa model, radiation exposure increased miR-21 in both primary tumor and metastases. In vitro, miR-21 knockdown decreased survival in all BrCa subtypes in the presence of radiation. The role of miR-21 in BrCa initiation was evaluated by implanting wild-type miR-21 BrCa cells into genetically engineered mouse models where miR-21 was intact, heterozygous or globally ablated. Tumors were unable to grow in the mammary fat pads of miR-21−/− mice, and grew in ~50% of miR-21+/− and 100% in miR-21+/+ mice. The contribution of miR-21 to progression and metastases was tested by crossing miR-21−/− mice with mice that spontaneously develop BrCa. The global ablation of miR-21 significantly decreased the tumorigenesis and metastases of BrCa, while sensitizing tumors to radio-and chemotherapeutic agents via Fas/FasL-dependent apoptosis. Therefore, targeting miR-21 alone or in combination with various radio or cytotoxic therapies may represent novel and efficacious therapeutic modalities for the future treatment of BrCa patients.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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