Stathmin 1 is a potential novel oncogene in melanoma

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In previous studies, we demonstrated that miR-193b expression is reduced in melanoma relative to benign nevi, and also that miR-193b represses cyclin D1 and Mcl-1 expression. We suggested that stathmin 1 (STMN1) might be a target of miR-193b. STMN1 normally regulates microtubule dynamics either by sequestering free tubulin heterodimers or by promoting microtubule catastrophe. Increased expression of STMN1 has been observed in a variety of human malignancies, but its association with melanoma is unknown. We now report that STMN1 is upregulated during the progression of melanoma relative to benign nevi, and that STMN1 is directly regulated by miR-193b. Using an experimental cell culture approach, overexpression of miR-193b using synthetic microRNAs repressed STMN1 expression, whereas inhibition of miR-193b with anti-miR oligos increased STMN1 expression in melanoma cells. The use of a luciferase reporter assay confirmed that miR-193b directly regulates STMN1 by targeting the 3′-untranslated region of STMN1 mRNA. We further demonstrated that STMN1 is overexpressed in malignant melanoma compared with nevi in two independent melanoma cohorts, and that its level is inversely correlated with miR-193b expression. However, STMN1 expression was not significantly associated with patient survival, Breslow depth, mitotic count or patient age. STMN1 knockdown by small-interfering RNA in melanoma cells drastically repressed cell proliferation and migration potential, whereas ectopic expression of STMN1 using lentivirus increased cell proliferation and migration rates. Subsequent gene expression analysis indicated that interconnected cytoskeletal networks are directly affected following STMN1 knockdown. In addition, we identified deregulated genes associated with proliferation and migration, and revealed that p21Cip1/Waf1 and p27Kip could be downstream effectors of STMN1 signaling. Taken together, our study suggests that downregulation of miR-193b may contribute to increased STMN1 expression in melanoma, which consequently promotes migration and proliferation of tumor cells.

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