Background: microRNAs (miRNAs) are non-coding small RNAs that regulate embryonic development, cell differentiation and pathological processes via interaction with mRNA. Epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) is pathological process that involves in a variety of diseases such as cancer or fibrosis. Methods: In this study, we identified miR-363 as a potent inducer of EMT by microarray analysis in human kidney tubular cells, and analyzed the function and mechanisms of miR-363. Results: Overexpression of miR-363 induced mesenchymal phenotypes with loss of epithelial phenotypes in human kidney tubular cells. In addition, in vitro scratch assay demonstrated that miR-363 promotes cell migration of primary culture of human kidney tubular cells. We identified TWIST/canonical WNT pathway as the downstream effecter of miR-363, and inhibition of canonical WNT by small molecule, IWR-1, attenuated EMT induced by miR-363. Conclusion: miR-363 induces transdifferentiation of human kidney tubular cells via upregulation of TWIST/canonical WNT pathway.
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