Researchers from Kyung Hee University have uncovered a novel mechanism in the fight against lung cancer, potentially paving the way for new therapeutic strategies. In a study published in “Cellular & Molecular Biology Letters,” scientists revealed that the microRNA miR-200c significantly downregulates hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α), an important transcription factor in cancer biology, and inhibits the migration of lung cancer cells. This discovery opens a new frontier in cancer treatment, especially for conditions characterized by hypoxic environments, such as lung tumors.

HIF-1α is well-known for its role under low oxygen conditions (hypoxia), where it promotes the survival and proliferation of cancer cells, and enables their migration and invasion, leading to metastasis. Researchers have long sought to understand the complex regulatory mechanisms of HIF-1α to develop therapeutic targets against cancer.

In this innovative study (DOI: 10.1186/s11658-019-0152-2), scientists, including Byun Yuree, Choi Young-Chul, and several collaborators at Kyung Hee University’s Graduate School of Biotechnology, screened 19 microRNAs for their ability to target HIF-1α. Of these, miR-200c stood out for its potent impact on both the expression level and the transcriptional activity of HIF-1α.

Through a series of controlled experiments, the team found that overexpression of miR-200c decreased the mRNA level of certain downstream genes of HIF-1α, suggesting that this microRNA could be suppressing the broader hypoxia response facilitated by HIF-1α. They also observed that miR-200c could significantly inhibit cell migration under both normal oxygen conditions and hypoxic conditions, portraying its potential as a multifaceted inhibitor of cancer progression.

The results are particularly noteworthy since hypoxia is a common feature in the tumor microenvironment and is known to pose challenges to conventional cancer therapy. By targeting HIF-1α, miR-200c offers a new avenue for inhibiting the adaptive responses of cancer cells to hypoxic conditions.


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The promising results of the study indicate that miR-200c may function as a tumor suppressor by inhibiting HIF-1α-mediated responses. The knowledge that miR-200c can reverse hypoxia-induced cell migration suggests it has significant therapeutic potential. The research team postulates that miR-200c could be developed as an anticancer agent, particularly for conditions where hypoxia plays a crucial role in tumor progression.

The full potential of miR-200c in clinical applications further depends on an in-depth understanding of its mechanisms of action and the development of methods to deliver miR-200c specifically to tumor cells while minimizing effects on healthy tissues. Further research may explore the effects of miR-200c in vivo and examine its potential when used in combination with other therapeutic approaches.


1. miR-200c lung cancer
2. HIF-1α inhibition therapy
3. Hypoxia cancer treatment
4. MicroRNA cancer research
5. Tumor hypoxia migration

This article, which offers hope for lung cancer patients, presents a clear example of how cutting-edge research continues to uncover new ways to combat this disease. By targeting a fundamental aspect of cancer cell survival and spread, the overexpression of miR-200c could hold the key to more effective treatments that can overcome the barrier of hypoxic tumor environments. With ongoing research, miR-200c could emerge as a cornerstone of future lung cancer therapies, potentially increasing survival rates and improving the quality of life for those afflicted by this illness.