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MicroRNA-34c-3p promotes cell proliferation and invasion in hepatocellular carcinoma by regulation of NCKAP1 expression



Our previous miRNA profiling study indicated that microRNA-34c-3p (miR-34c-3p) was overexpressed and associated with survival in HCC. This study is aimed to confirm its clinical significance and explore the function and underlying mechanism of miR-34c-3p in HCC.


We first evaluated miR-34c-3p expression and its relationship with prognosis in HCC patients. We then established stable HCC cell lines with miR-34c-3p overexpression and knockdown by the lentiviral packaging systems and performed the functional assays in vitro and in vivo, respectively. We next identified the target of miR-34c-3p by using microRNA target databases and dual-luciferase assay. Finally, the correlation between the expression of miR-34c-3p and the target gene was analyzed by immunohistochemistry and qRT-PCR in HCC tissues and hepatoma xenografts.


Overexpressed miR-34c-3p was confirmed in HCC tissues and significantly associated with poor survival of HCC patients. miR-34c-3p expression was also recognized as an independent risk factor for DFS and OS in multivariate analysis. Ectopic expression of miR-34c-3p significantly promotes the proliferation, colony formation, invasion and cell cycle regression of HCC cell lines. Knockdown of miR-34c-3p remarkably blocked hepatoma growth in the xenograft model. miRNA target databases and luciferase reporter assay showed that NCKAP1 was a direct target of miR-34c-3p in HCC cells and the high expression of NCKAP1 in HCC tissues is significantly correlated with low expression of miR-34c-3p and associated with a favorable prognosis of HCC patients.


The current study demonstrates that miR-34c-3p functions as a tumor promoter by targeting NCKAP1 that is associated with prognosis in HCC. miR-34c-3p and NCKAP1 may be new potential molecular targets for HCC therapy.

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This study was funded by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81172037), the Guangdong Science and Technology Project of China (No. 2013B021800159).

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Correspondence to Hui-Yun Wang or Rong-Ping Guo.

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All authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national and institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Additional information

Cheng-Zuo Xiao and Wei Wei have contributed equally to this work.

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Xiao, C., Wei, W., Guo, Z. et al. MicroRNA-34c-3p promotes cell proliferation and invasion in hepatocellular carcinoma by regulation of NCKAP1 expression. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol 143, 263–273 (2017).

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  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • MicroRNA-34c-3p
  • NCKAP1
  • Cell proliferation
  • Survival