All-trans-retinoic acid modulates glycolysis via H19 and telomerase: the role of mir-let-7a in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer cells


BMC Cancer. 2024 May 21;24(1):615. doi: 10.1186/s12885-024-12379-3.


BACKGROUND: Breast cancer (BC) is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. Treatment approaches that differ between estrogen-positive (ER+) and triple-negative BC cells (TNBCs) and may subsequently affect cancer biomarkers, such as H19 and telomerase, are an emanating delight in BC research. For instance, all-trans-Retinoic acid (ATRA) could represent a potent regulator of these oncogenes, regulating microRNAs, mostly let-7a microRNA (miR-let-7a), which targets the glycolysis pathway, mainly pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2) and lactate dehydrogenase A (LDHA) enzymes. Here, we investigated the potential role of ATRA in H19, telomerase, miR-let-7a, and glycolytic enzymes modulation in ER + and TNBC cells.

METHODS: MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells were treated with 5 µM ATRA and/or 100 nM fulvestrant. Then, ATRA-treated or control MCF-7 cells were transfected with either H19 or hTERT siRNA. Afterward, ATRA-treated or untreated MDA-MB-231 cells were transfected with estrogen receptor alpha ER(α) or beta ER(β) expression plasmids. RNA expression was evaluated by RT‒qPCR, and proteins were assessed by Western blot. PKM2 activity was measured using an NADH/LDH coupled enzymatic assay, and telomerase activity was evaluated with a quantitative telomeric repeat amplification protocol assay. Student’s t-test or one-way ANOVA was used to analyze data from replicates.

RESULTS: Our results showed that MCF-7 cells were more responsive to ATRA than MDA-MB-231 cells. In MCF-7 cells, ATRA and/or fulvestrant decreased ER(α), H19, telomerase, PKM2, and LDHA, whereas ER(β) and miR-let-7a increased. H19 or hTERT knockdown with or without ATRA treatment showed similar results to those obtained after ATRA treatment, and a potential interconnection between H19 and hTERT was found. However, in MDA-MB-231 cells, RNA expression of the aforementioned genes was modulated after ATRA and/or fulvestrant, with no significant effect on protein and activity levels. Overexpression of ER(α) or ER(β) in MDA-MB-231 cells induced telomerase activity, PKM2 and LDHA expression, in which ATRA treatment combined with plasmid transfection decreased glycolytic enzyme expression.

CONCLUSIONS: To the best of our knowledge, our study is the first to elucidate a new potential interaction between the estrogen receptor and glycolytic enzymes in ER + BC cells through miR-let-7a.

PMID:38773429 | DOI:10.1186/s12885-024-12379-3