Key Laboratory of Systems Biology, Center for Excellence in Molecular Cell Science, Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 200031, Shanghai, China. [Email]
The competitive endogenous RNA (ceRNA) hypothesis suggests an intrinsic mechanism to regulate biological processes. However, whether the dynamic changes of ceRNAs can modulate miRNA activities remains controversial. Here, we examine the dynamics of ceRNAs during TGF-β-induced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). We observe that TGFBI, a transcript highly induced during EMT in A549 cells, acts as the ceRNA for miR-21 to modulate EMT. We further identify FN1 as the ceRNA for miR-200c in the canonical SNAIL-ZEB-miR200 circuit in MCF10A cells. Experimental assays and computational simulations demonstrate that the dynamically induced ceRNAs are directly coupled with the canonical double negative feedback loops and are critical to the induction of EMT. These results help to establish the relevance of ceRNA in cancer EMT and suggest that ceRNA is an intrinsic component of the EMT regulatory circuit and may represent a potential target to disrupt EMT during tumorigenesis.