The telomeric repeat-binding factor 2 (TRF2) is a telomere-capping protein that plays a key role in the maintenance of telomere structure and function. It is highly expressed in different cancer types, and it contributes to cancer progression. To date, anti-cancer strategies to target TRF2 remain a challenge. Here, we developed a miRNA-based approach to reduce TRF2 expression. By performing a high-throughput luciferase screening of 54 candidate miRNAs, we identified miR-182-3p as a specific and efficient post-transcriptional regulator of TRF2. Ectopic expression of miR-182-3p drastically reduced TRF2 protein levels in a panel of telomerase- or alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT)-positive cancer cell lines. Moreover, miR-182-3p induced DNA damage at telomeric and pericentromeric sites, eventually leading to strong apoptosis activation. We also observed that treatment with lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) containing miR-182-3p impaired tumor growth in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) models, including patient-derived tumor xenografts (PDTXs), without affecting mouse survival or tissue function. Finally, LNPs-miR-182-3p were able to cross the blood-brain barrier and reduce intracranial tumors representing a possible therapeutic option for metastatic brain lesions.
EMBO Mol Med
TRF2, miR-182-3p, target therapy, telomeres, triple-negative breast cancer