Development of improved RNA interference-based strategies is of utmost clinical importance. Although siRNA-mediated silencing of EphA2, an ovarian cancer oncogene, results in reduction of tumor growth, we present evidence that additional inhibition of EphA2 by a microRNA (miRNA) further "boosts" its antitumor effects. We identified miR-520d-3p as a tumor suppressor upstream of EphA2, whose expression correlated with favorable outcomes in two independent patient cohorts comprising 647 patients. Restoration of miR-520d-3p prominently decreased EphA2 protein levels, and suppressed tumor growth and migration/invasion both in vitro and in vivo. Dual inhibition of EphA2 in vivo using 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine (DOPC) nanoliposomes loaded with miR-520d-3p and EphA2 siRNA showed synergistic antitumor efficiency and greater therapeutic efficacy than either monotherapy alone. This synergy is at least in part due to miR-520d-3p targeting EphB2, another Eph receptor. Our data emphasize the feasibility of combined miRNA-siRNA therapy, and will have broad implications for innovative gene silencing therapies for cancer and other diseases. SIGNIFICANCE: This study addresses a new concept of RNA inhibition therapy by combining miRNA and siRNA in nanoliposomal particles to target oncogenic pathways altered in ovarian cancer. Combined targeting of the Eph pathway using EphA2 -targeting siRNA and the tumor suppressor miR-520d-3p exhibits remarkable therapeutic synergy and enhanced tumor suppression in vitro and in vivo compared with either monotherapy alone.
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