Radiotherapy is a fundamental step in the treatment of breast cancer patients. The treatment efficiency is however reduced by the possible onset of radiation resistance. In order to develop the effective treatment approach, it is important to understand molecular basis of radiosensitivity in breast cancer. The purpose of the present study was to investigate different radiation response of breast cancer cell lines, and find out if this response may be related to change in the microRNAs expression profile. MDA-MB-231 and T47D cells were subjected to different doses of radiation, then MTT and clonogenic assays were performed to assess radiation sensitivity. Cytofluorometric and western blot analysis were performed to gain insight into cell cycle distribution and protein expression. MicroRNA sequencing and bioinformatics prediction methods were used to identify the difference in microRNAs expression between two breast cancer cells and the related genes and pathways. T47D cells were more sensitive to radiation respect to MDA-MB-231 cells as demonstrated by a remarkable G2 cell cycle arrest followed by a greater reduction in cell viability and colony forming ability. Accordingly, T47D cells showed higher increase in the phosphorylation of ATM, TP53 and CDK1 (markers of radiation response) and faster and more pronounced increase in RAD51 and γH2AX expression (markers of DNA damage), when compared to MDA-MB-231 cells. The two cell lines had different microRNAs expression profiles with a confirmed significant differential expression of miR-16-5p, which targets cell cycle related genes and predicts longer overall survival of breast cancer patients, as determined by bioinformatics analysis. These results suggest a possible role for miR-16-5p as radiation sensitizing microRNA and as prognostic/predictive biomarker in breast cancer.
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