The role of microRNA-155 (miR-155) has been associated with oncogenesis of several human tumors. However the expression pattern of miR-155 has not been investigated in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). The present study was to assess miR-155 expression pattern and its possible function in NPC, to identify its targets and evaluate their clinical applications in NPC. MiR-155 was found to be upregulated in two Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) negative NPC derived cell lines CNE1 and TW03, as well as in NPC clinical samples by quantitative Real-time PCR and in situ hybridization detection. EBV encoded LMP1 and LMP2A could further enhance the expression of miR-155 in NPC CNE1 and TW03 cells. JMJD1A and BACH1 were identified as putative targets of miR-155 in a bioinformatics screen. Overexpression of miR-155 downregulated a luciferase transcript fused to the 3′UTR of JMJD1A and BACH1. MiR-155 mimic could downregulate the expression of JMJD1A and BACH1, while miR-155 inhibitor could upregulate JMJD1A expression in NPC cell lines. Moreover, downregulation of JMJD1A was significantly correlated with N stage in TNM classification (p = 0.023), a lower five-year survival rate (p = 0.021), and a lower five-year disease-free survival rate (p = 0.049) of NPC patients. Taken together, up-regulation of miR-155 in NPC is partly driven by LMP1 and LMP2A, and results in downregulation of JMJD1A, which is associated with N stage and poor prognosis of NPC patients. The potential of miR-155 and JMJD1A as therapeutic targets in NPC should be further investigated
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