miR-18a represses angiogenesis and tumor evasion by weakening vascular endothelial growth factor and transforming growth factor-β signaling to prolong the survival of glioma patients, although it is thought to be an oncogene. This study investigates the potential effects of miR-18a on the permeability of the blood–tumor barrier (BTB) and its possible molecular mechanisms. An in vitro BTB model was successfully established. The endogenous expression of miR-18a in glioma vascular endothelial cells (GECs) was significantly lower than that in normal vascular ECs, and the overexpression of miR-18a significantly increased the permeability of the BTB as well as downregulating the mRNA and protein expressions of tight junction-related proteins zonula occluden-1 (ZO-1), claudin-5, and occludin in GECs. Dual luciferase reporter assays revealed that miR-18a bound to the 3′-untranslated region (3′UTR) of myocyte enhancer factor 2D (MEF2D). The overexpression of both miR-18a and MEF2D with the 3′UTR significantly weakened the effect caused by miR-18a of decreasing the mRNA and protein expressions of ZO-1, claudin-5 and occludin and of increasing the permeability of the BTB. Chromatin immunoprecipitation showed that MEF2D could directly bind to KLF4 promoter. This study shows that miR-18a targets and negatively regulates MEF2D, which further regulates tight junction-related proteins ZO-1, claudin-5, and occludin through transactivation of KLF4 and, finally, changes the permeability of the BTB. MiR-18a should garner growing attention because it might serve as a potential target in opening the BTB and providing a new strategy for the treatment of gliomas. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
MiR-18a targets and negatively regulates MEF2D, which further regulates tight junction-related proteins ZO-1, claudin-5, and occludin through transactivation of KLF4 and finally results in opening the BTB. → expresses activation; expresses inhibition.