Background: The microRNA-200 (miR-200) family has been reported to induce epithelial differentiation and suppress epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) by inhibiting translation of zinc finger E-box-binding homeobox (ZEB) 1 and 2 mRNAs in several types of cancers. This study aimed to clarify the role of miR-200b in regulating EMT and promoting cellular proliferation, invasion, and migration in gastric cancer. Methods: The relationships among the expression levels of miR-200b, ZEB1 and ZEB2, and E-cadherin mRNAs were analyzed by quantitative real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction in frozen tissue samples from 40 gastric cancer patients who underwent gastrectomy from 2008 to 2010. The effects of miR-200b on EMT in gastric cancer cells in vitro were also analyzed. Results: Diffuse histologic type, depth of tumor, tumor size, lymph node metastasis, and lymphatic invasion were significantly higher in the low-miR-200b expression group compared with the high expression group. There was a strong correlation between the levels of miR-200b, and ZEB2 and E-cadherin mRNAs in gastric cancer patients. Upregulation of miR-200b in gastric cancer cells changed the cell morphology from fibroblast- to epithelial-like, associated with localization of E-cadherin to the plasma membrane. ZEB2 mRNA levels fell, while E-cadherin expression levels increased in gastric cells overexpressing miR-200b, associated with significantly reduced cellular proliferation, and inhibition of cellular migration and invasion. Conclusions: miR-200b regulates ZEB2 expression and thus controls metastasis in gastric cancer.
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