N-myc (and STAT) interactor (NMI) plays vital roles in tumor growth, progression, and metastasis. In this study, we identified NMI as a potential tumor suppressor in lung cancer and explored its molecular mechanism involved in lung cancer progression.
Human lung cancer cell lines and a mouse xenograft model was used to study the effect of NMI on tumor growth. The expression of NMI, COX-2 and relevant signaling proteins were examined by Western blot. Tissue microarray immunohistochemical analysis was performed to assess the correlation between NMI and COX-2 expression in lung cancer patients.
NMI was highly expressed in normal lung cells and tissues, but lowly expressed in lung cancer cells and tissues. Overexpression of NMI induced apoptosis, suppressed lung cancer cell growth and migration, which were mediated by up-regulation of the cleaved caspase-3/9 and down-regulation of phosphorylated PI3K/AKT, MMP2/MMP9, β-cadherin, and COX-2/PGE2. In contrast, knockdown of NMI promoted lung cancer cell colony formation and migration, which were correlated with the increased expression of phosphorylated PI3K/AKT, MMP2/MMP9, β-cadherin and COX-2/PGE2. Further study showed that NMI suppressed COX-2 expression through inhibition of the p50/p65 NF-κB acetylation mediated by p300. The xenograft lung cancer mouse models also confirmed the NMI-mediated suppression of tumor growth by inhibiting COX-2 signaling. Moreover, tissue microarray immunohistochemical analysis of lung adenocarcinomas also demonstrated a negative correlation between NMI and COX-2 expression. Kaplan-Meier analysis indicated that the patients with high level of NMI had a significantly better prognosis.
Our study showed that NMI suppressed tumor growth by inhibiting PI3K/AKT, MMP2/MMP9, COX-2/PGE2 signaling pathways and p300-mediated NF-κB acetylation, and predicted a favorable prognosis in human lung adenocarcinomas, suggesting that NMI was a potential tumor suppressor in lung cancer.