BackgroundColorectal cancer ranks among the most lethal diseases worldwide. Although much progress has been made in research and treatment of colorectal cancer in recent years, the underlying mechanisms related to migration of the cancer cells and the reason for chemoresistance still remain unclear. In this research, we explored the underlying effect of miR-138-5p in colorectal cancer.MethodsWe used qRT-PCR to investigate the expression of miR-138-5p, Snail1, NFIB in colorectal cancer cells. Lentiviral vectors containing miR-138-5p mimics and inhibitors were constructed and transfected cells. Wound healing assay was applied to illustrate interferences on cell migration. Fluorouracial, doxorubicin, cisplat in were used to detect chemotherapy resistance. In order to identify target genes, bioinformatic methods were applied. Snail1 and NFIB protein expression in stable cell lines was detected using Western blot. Double luciferase and CHIP experiment were used to verify binding sites. We used rescue experiments to further explore the interactions among Snail1, NFIB and miR-138-5p.ResultsThe expression of miR-138-5p in colorectal cancer cells was low. miR-138-5p inhibited cell migration in colorectal cancer, and could negatively regulate chemotherapy resistance. miR-138-5p targeted NFIB, and regulated Snail1 expression, which mediated colorectal cancer cell migration and chemotherapy resistance.ConclusionsOur research indicates that miR-138-5p could be a crucial modulator controlling colorectal cancer cell migration and chemoresistance, by acting upon the NFIB-Snail1 axis. miR-138-5p has an emerging prospect to be exploited as a new target for colorectal cancer.