Objective: This study aimed to investigate the effects of micro ribonucleic acid (miR)-338-3p on the migration, invasion and proliferation of lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD) cells.

Methods: Bioinformatics analysis was employed to evaluate the function and expression of related genes in lung cancer. Human A549 and NCI-H1299 cells cultured to logarithmic growth stage were assigned to negative control (NC) mimic group, miR-338-3p mimic group (miR-mimic group), NC inhibitor group and miR-338-3p inhibitor group (miR-inhibitor group) treated with or without MAP3K2 overexpression (OE)-lentivirus, or TBHQ or FR180204. Transwell assay, cell colony formation assay, Western blotting and cell-cycle analysis were carried out.

Results: Bioinformatics results manifested that miR-338 and MAP3K2 were involved in LUAD. The expression levels of MAP3K2, p-ERK1/2, MMP-2, MMP-3, MMP-9, cyclin A2 and cyclin D1 were increased after addition of miR-338-3p inhibitor, consistent with the raised amount of LUAD cells in migration and invasion experiments and number of colonies formed, as well as the cell cycle, but miR-338-3p mimic reversed these results. Moreover, MAP3K2 overexpression elevated the level of p-ERK1/2. Meanwhile, after treatment with TBHQ or FR180204, the influence of miR-338-3p inhibitor or mimic was also verified.

Conclusions: MiR-338-3p overexpression can modulate the ERK1/2 signaling pathway by targeting MAP3K2, thus inhibiting the migration, invasion and proliferation of human LUAD cells.