Background: F-box and WD repeat domain-containing 7 (FBXW7) is a cell cycle regulatory gene whose protein product ubiquitinates positive cell cycle regulators such as c-Myc, cyclin E, and c-Jun, thereby acting as a tumour-suppressor gene. This study focused on microRNA-223 (miR-223), which is a candidate regulator of FBXW7 mRNA. The aim of this study was to clarify the clinical significance of miR-223 and FBXW7 in oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) patients, and to elucidate the mechanism by which FBXW7 is regulated by miR-223. Methods: The expression levels of miR-223 and the expression of FBXW7 protein was examined using 109 resected specimens to determine the clinicopathological significance. We also investigated the role of miR-223 in the regulation of FBXW7 expression in ESCC cell lines in an in vitro analysis. Results: We found that miR-223 expression was significantly higher in cancerous tissues than in the corresponding normal tissues. There was a significant inverse relationship between the expression levels of miR-223 and FBXW7 protein. Moreover, patients with high miR-223 expression demonstrated a significantly poorer prognosis than those with low expression. On the basis of a series of gain-of-function and loss-of-function studies in vitro, we identified FBXW7 as a functional downstream target of miR-223. Conclusion: Our present study indicates that high expression of miR-223 had a significant adverse impact on the survival of ESCC patients through repression of the function of FBXW7.
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