MYCN is a transcription factor that plays key roles in both normal development and cancer. In neuroblastoma, MYCN acts as a major oncogenic driver through pleiotropic effects regulated by multiple protein encoding genes as well as microRNAs (miRNAs). MYCN activity is tightly controlled at the level of transcription and protein stability through various mechanisms. Like most genes, MYCN is further controlled by miRNAs, but the full complement of all miRNAs implicated in this process has not been determined through an unbiased approach. To elucidate the role of miRNAs in regulation of MYCN, we thus explored the MYCN-miRNA interactome to establish miRNAs controlling MYCN expression levels. We combined results from an unbiased and genome-wide high-throughput miRNA target reporter screen with miRNA and mRNA expression data from patients and a murine neuroblastoma progression model. We identified 29 miRNAs targeting MYCN, of which 12 miRNAs are inversely correlated with MYCN expression or activity in neuroblastoma tumor tissue. The majority of MYCN-targeting miRNAs in neuroblastoma showed a decrease in expression during murine MYCN-driven neuroblastoma tumor development. Therefore, we provide evidence that MYCN-targeting miRNAs are preferentially downregulated in MYCN-driven neuroblastoma, suggesting that MYCN negatively controls the expression of these miRNAs, to safeguard its expression.
MYCN; microRNA; neuroblastoma; feedback regulation; cross-species
MicroRNAs are small molecules which regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally and aberrant expression of several miRNAs is associated with neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer arising from precursor cells of the sympathetic nervous system. Amplification of the MYCN transcription factor characterizes the most clinically aggressive subtype of this disease, and although alteration of p53 signaling is not commonly found in primary tumors, deregulation of proteins involved in this pathway frequently arise in recurrent disease after pharmacological treatment. TH-MYCN is a well-characterized transgenic model of MYCN-driven neuroblastoma which recapitulates many clinicopathologic features of the human disease. Here, we evaluate the dysregulation of miRNAs in tumors from TH-MYCN mice that are either wild-type (TH-MYCN) or deficient (TH-MYCN/p53ERTAM) for the p53 tumor suppressor gene.
We analyzed the expression of 591 miRNAs in control (adrenal) and neuroblastoma tumor tissues derived from either TH-MYCN or TH-MYCN/p53ERTAM mice, respectively wild-type or deficient in p53. Comparing miRNA expression in tumor and control samples, we identified 159 differentially expressed miRNAs. Using data previously obtained from human neuroblastoma samples, we performed a comparison of miRNA expression between murine and human tumors to assess the concordance between murine and human expression data. Notably, the miR-17-5p-92 oncogenic polycistronic cluster, which is over-expressed in human MYCN amplified tumors, was over-expressed in mouse tumors. Moreover, analyzing miRNAs expression in a mouse model (TH-MYCN/p53ERTAM) possessing a transgenic p53 allele that drives the expression of an inactive protein, we identified miR-125b-3p and miR-676 as directly or indirectly regulated by the level of functional p53.
Our study represents the first miRNA profiling of an important mouse model of neuroblastoma. Similarities and differences in miRNAs expression between human and murine neuroblastoma were identified, providing important insight into the efficacy of this mouse model for assessing miRNA involvement in neuroblastoma and their potential effectiveness as therapeutic targets.
The rearrangement of pre-existing genes has long been thought of as the major mode of new gene generation. Recently, de novo gene birth from non-genic DNA was found to be an alternative mechanism to generate novel protein-coding genes. However, its functional role in human disease remains largely unknown. Here we show that NCYM, a cis-antisense gene of the MYCN oncogene, initially thought to be a large non-coding RNA, encodes a de novo evolved protein regulating the pathogenesis of human cancers, particularly neuroblastoma. The NCYM gene is evolutionally conserved only in the taxonomic group containing humans and chimpanzees. In primary human neuroblastomas, NCYM is 100% co-amplified and co-expressed with MYCN, and NCYM mRNA expression is associated with poor clinical outcome. MYCN directly transactivates both NCYM and MYCN mRNA, whereas NCYM stabilizes MYCN protein by inhibiting the activity of GSK3β, a kinase that promotes MYCN degradation. In contrast to MYCN transgenic mice, neuroblastomas in MYCN/NCYM double transgenic mice were frequently accompanied by distant metastases, behavior reminiscent of human neuroblastomas with MYCN amplification. The NCYM protein also interacts with GSK3β, thereby stabilizing the MYCN protein in the tumors of the MYCN/NCYM double transgenic mice. Thus, these results suggest that GSK3β inhibition by NCYM stabilizes the MYCN protein both in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, the survival of MYCN transgenic mice bearing neuroblastoma was improved by treatment with NVP-BEZ235, a dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitor shown to destabilize MYCN via GSK3β activation. In contrast, tumors caused in MYCN/NCYM double transgenic mice showed chemo-resistance to the drug. Collectively, our results show that NCYM is the first de novo evolved protein known to act as an oncopromoting factor in human cancer, and suggest that de novo evolved proteins may functionally characterize human disease.
The MYCN oncogene has a central role in the genesis and progression of neuroblastomas, and its amplification is associated with an unfavorable prognosis. We have found that NCYM, a MYCN cis-antisense RNA, is translated in humans to a de novo evolved protein. NCYM inhibits GSK3β to stabilize MYCN, whereas MYCN induces NCYM transcription. The positive feedback regulation formed in the MYCN/NCYM-amplified tumors promotes the aggressive nature of human neuroblastoma. MYCN transgenic mice, which express human MYCN in sympathoadrenal tissues, spontaneously develop neuroblastomas. However, unlike human neuroblastoma, distant metastasis is infrequent. We established MYCN/NCYM double transgenic mice as a new animal model for studying neuroblastoma pathogenesis. We found that NCYM expression promoted both the metastasis and chemo-resistance of the neuroblastomas formed in the double transgenic mice. These results demonstrate that NCYM may be a potential target for developing novel therapeutic tools against high-risk neuroblastomas in humans, and that the MYCN/NCYM double transgenic mouse may be a suitable model for the screening of these new drugs.
Neuroblastoma is an embryonic tumor arising from immature sympathetic nervous system cells. Recurrent genomic alterations include MYCN and ALK amplification as well as recurrent patterns of gains and losses of whole or large partial chromosome segments. A recent whole genome sequencing effort yielded no frequently recurring mutations in genes other than those affecting ALK. However, the study further stresses the importance of DNA copy number alterations in this disease, in particular for genes implicated in neuritogenesis. Here we provide additional evidence for the importance of focal DNA copy number gains and losses, which are predominantly observed in MYCN amplified tumors. A focal 5 kb gain encompassing the MYCN regulated miR-17∼92 cluster as sole gene was detected in a neuroblastoma cell line and further analyses of the array CGH data set demonstrated enrichment for other MYCN target genes in focal gains and amplifications. Next we applied an integrated genomics analysis to prioritize MYCN down regulated genes mediated by MYCN driven miRNAs within regions of focal heterozygous or homozygous deletion. We identified RGS5, a negative regulator of G-protein signaling implicated in vascular normalization, invasion and metastasis, targeted by a focal homozygous deletion, as a new MYCN target gene, down regulated through MYCN activated miRNAs. In addition, we expand the miR-17∼92 regulatory network controlling TGFß signaling in neuroblastoma with the ring finger protein 11 encoding gene RNF11, which was previously shown to be targeted by the miR-17∼92 member miR-19b. Taken together, our data indicate that focal DNA copy number imbalances in neuroblastoma (1) target genes that are implicated in MYCN signaling, possibly selected to reinforce MYCN oncogene addiction and (2) serve as a resource for identifying new molecular targets for treatment.
Differences in MYCN/c-MYC target gene expression are associated with distinct neuroblastoma subtypes and clinical outcome.
Amplified MYCN oncogene resulting in deregulated MYCN transcriptional activity is observed in 20% of neuroblastomas and identifies a highly aggressive subtype. In MYCN single-copy neuroblastomas, elevated MYCN mRNA and protein levels are paradoxically associated with a more favorable clinical phenotype, including disseminated tumors that subsequently regress spontaneously (stage 4s-non-amplified). In this study, we asked whether distinct transcriptional MYCN or c-MYC activities are associated with specific neuroblastoma phenotypes.
We defined a core set of direct MYCN/c-MYC target genes by applying gene expression profiling and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP, ChIP-chip) in neuroblastoma cells that allow conditional regulation of MYCN and c-MYC. Their transcript levels were analyzed in 251 primary neuroblastomas. Compared to localized-non-amplified neuroblastomas, MYCN/c-MYC target gene expression gradually increases from stage 4s-non-amplified through stage 4-non-amplified to MYCN amplified tumors. This was associated with MYCN activation in stage 4s-non-amplified and predominantly c-MYC activation in stage 4-non-amplified tumors. A defined set of MYCN/c-MYC target genes was induced in stage 4-non-amplified but not in stage 4s-non-amplified neuroblastomas. In line with this, high expression of a subset of MYCN/c-MYC target genes identifies a patient subtype with poor overall survival independent of the established risk markers amplified MYCN, disease stage, and age at diagnosis.
High MYCN/c-MYC target gene expression is a hallmark of malignant neuroblastoma progression, which is predominantly driven by c-MYC in stage 4-non-amplified tumors. In contrast, moderate MYCN function gain in stage 4s-non-amplified tumors induces only a restricted set of target genes that is still compatible with spontaneous regression.
The purpose of this study was to further define the biology of the 11q− neuroblastoma tumor subgroup by the integration of aCGH with miRNA expression profiling data to determine if improved patient stratification is possible.
A set of primary neuroblastoma (n=160) which was broadly representative of all genetic subtypes was analyzed by aCGH and for the expression of 430 miRNAs. A 15 miRNA expression signature previously demonstrated to be predictive of clinical outcome was used to analyze an independent cohort of 11q− tumors (n=37).
Loss of 4p and gain of 7q occurred at a significantly higher frequency in the 11q−tumors, further defining the genetic characteristics of this subtype. The 11q− tumors could be split into two subgroups using a miRNA expression survival signature which differed significantly in both clinical outcome and the overall frequency of large scale genomic imbalances, with the poor survival subgroup having significantly more imbalances. MiRNAs from the expression signature which were up-regulated in unfavorable tumors were predicted to target down-regulated genes from a published mRNA expression classifier of clinical outcome at a higher than expected frequency, indicating the miRNAs might contribute to the regulation of genes within the signature.
We demonstrate that two distinct biological subtypes of neuroblastoma with loss of 11q occur which differ in their miRNA expression profiles, frequency of segmental imbalances and clinical outcome. A miRNA expression signature, combined with an analysis of segmental imbalances, provides greater prediction of EFS and OS outcomes than 11q status by itself, improving patient stratification.
aCGH; MYCN; neuroblastoma; miRNA
By integrating genotype information, microRNA transcript abundances and mRNA expression levels, Eric Schadt and colleagues provide insights into the genetic basis of microRNA gene expression and the role of microRNAs within the liver gene-regulatory network.
This article demonstrates how integrative genomics techniques can be used to investigate novel classes of RNA molecules. Moreover, it represents one of the first examinations of the genetic basis of variation in miRNA gene expression.Our results suggest that miRNA transcript abundances are under more complex regulation than previously observed for mRNA abundances.We also demonstrate that miRNAs typically exist as highly connected hub nodes and function as key sensors within the liver transcriptional network.Additionally, our results provide support for two key hypotheses—namely, that miRNAs can act cooperatively or redundantly to regulate a given pathway, and that miRNAs play a subtle role by dampening expression of their target gene through the use of feedback loops.
Since their discovery less than two decades ago, microRNAs (miRNAs) have repeatedly been shown to play a regulatory role in important biological processes. These small single-stranded molecules have been found to regulate multiple pathways—such as developmental timing in worms; fat metabolism in flies; and stress response in plants—and have been established as key regulatory molecules with potential widespread influence on both fundamental biology and various diseases. In the past decade, a new approach referred to by a number of names (‘integrative genomics', ‘systems genetics' or ‘genetical genomics') has shown increasing levels of success in elucidating the complex relationships found in gene regulatory networks. This approach leverages multiple layers of information (such as genotype, gene expression and phenotype) to infer causal associations that are then used for a number of different purposes, including identifying drivers of diseases and characterizing molecular networks. More importantly, many of the causal relationships that have been identified using this approach have been experimentally tested and verified. By integrating miRNA transcript abundances with messenger RNA (mRNA) expression data and genetic data, we have demonstrated how integrative genomics approaches can be used to characterize the global role played by miRNAs within complex gene regulatory networks. Overall, we investigated approximately 30% of the registered mouse miRNAs with a focus on liver networks. Our analysis reveals that miRNAs exist as highly connected hub nodes and function as key sensors within the gene regulatory network. Further comparisons between the regulatory loci contributing to the variation observed in miRNA and mRNA expression levels indicate that while miRNAs are controlled by more loci than have previously been observed for mRNAs, the contribution from each locus is on average smaller for miRNAs. We also provide evidence supporting two key hypotheses in the field: (i) miRNAs can act cooperatively or redundantly to regulate a given pathway; and (ii) miRNAs may regulate expression of their target gene through the use of feedback loops.
Integrative genomics and genetics approaches have proven to be a useful tool in elucidating the complex relationships often found in gene regulatory networks. More importantly, a number of studies have provided the necessary experimental evidence confirming the validity of the causal relationships inferred using such an approach. By integrating messenger RNA (mRNA) expression data with microRNA (miRNA) (i.e. small non-coding RNA with well-established regulatory roles in a myriad of biological processes) expression data, we show how integrative genomics approaches can be used to characterize the role played by approximately a third of registered mouse miRNAs within the context of a liver gene regulatory network. Our analysis reveals that the transcript abundances of miRNAs are subject to regulatory control by many more loci than previously observed for mRNA expression. Moreover, our results indicate that miRNAs exist as highly connected hub-nodes and function as key sensors within the transcriptional network. We also provide evidence supporting the hypothesis that miRNAs can act cooperatively or redundantly to regulate a given pathway and that miRNAs play a subtle role by dampening expression of their target gene through the use of feedback loops.
causal associations; eQTL mapping; expression QTL; microRNA
Previous studies show that the MYCN and MDM2-p53 signal pathways are mutually regulated: MYCN stimulates MDM2 and p53 transcription, whereas MDM2 stabilizes MYCN mRNA and induces its translation. Herein, we report that the interaction between MDM2 and MYCN plays a critical role in MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma tumor cell growth and survival. Distinct from the known role that MDM2 has in regulating tumor promotion in non-MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma, in which MDM2 inhibits p53, we found that MDM2 stimulated tumor growth in MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma in a p53-independent manner. In MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cells, enforced expression of MDM2 further enhanced MYCN expression, yet no p53 inhibition was observed by MDM2 due to upregulation of MYCN that stimulated p53 transcription. Similarly, p53 expression remained unchanged in MDM2-silenced MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cells because MDM2 inhibition resulted in a downregulation of MYCN that decreased p53 transcription, although the MDM2-mediated degradation of p53 was reduced. Also, we found that the enforced overexpression of MDM2, or conversely, the inhibition of overexpressed endogenous MDM2, led to either a remarkable increase or decrease in tumor growth, respectively, in MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma (even though no p53 function was involved). These results suggest that p53 that is reciprocally regulated by MDM2 and MYCN is dispensable for suppression of MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma, and that the direct interaction between MDM2 and MYCN may contribute significantly to MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma growth and disease progression.
MYCN; Neuroblastoma; MDM2; p53; cell growth
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate expression of many cancer-related genes through posttranscriptional repression of their mRNAs. In this study we investigate the proto-oncogene MYCN as a target for miRNA regulation.
A luciferase reporter assay was used to investigate software-predicted miRNA target sites in the 3′-untranslated region (3′UTR) of MYCN. The miRNAs were overexpressed in cell lines by transfection of miRNA mimics or miRNA-expressing plasmids. Mutation of the target sites was used to validate MYCN 3′UTR as a direct target of several miRNAs. To measure miRNA-mediated suppression of endogenous N-myc protein, inhibition of proliferation and inhibition of clonogenic growth, miRNAs were overexpressed in a MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cell line.
The results from this study show that MYCN is targeted by several miRNAs. In addition to the previously shown mir-34a/c, we experimentally validate mir-449, mir-19a/b, mir-29a/b/c, mir-101 and let-7e/mir-202 as direct MYCN-targeting miRNAs. These miRNAs were able to suppress endogenous N-myc protein in a MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cell line. The let-7e and mir-202 were strong negative regulators of MYCN expression. The mir-101 and the let-7 family miRNAs let-7e and mir-202 inhibited proliferation and clonogenic growth when overexpressed in Kelly cells.
The tumour-suppressor miRNAs let-7 and mir-101 target MYCN and inhibit proliferation and clonogenic growth of MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cells.
neuroblastoma; N-myc; MYCN; let-7; mir-101; 3′UTR
HIV infection disturbs the central nervous system (CNS) through inflammation and glial activation. Evidence suggests roles for microRNA (miRNA) in host defense and neuronal homeostasis, though little is known about miRNAs' role in HIV CNS infection. MiRNAs are non-coding RNAs that regulate gene translation through post-transcriptional mechanisms. Messenger-RNA profiling alone is insufficient to elucidate the dynamic dance of molecular expression of the genome. We sought to clarify RNA alterations in the frontal cortex (FC) of HIV-infected individuals and those concurrently infected and diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD). This report is the first published study of large-scale miRNA profiling from human HIV-infected FC. The goals of this study were to: 1. Identify changes in miRNA expression that occurred in the frontal cortex (FC) of HIV individuals, 2. Determine whether miRNA expression profiles of the FC could differentiate HIV from HIV/MDD, and 3. Adapt a method to meaningfully integrate gene expression data and miRNA expression data in clinical samples. We isolated RNA from the FC (n = 3) of three separate groups (uninfected controls, HIV, and HIV/MDD) and then pooled the RNA within each group for use in large-scale miRNA profiling. RNA from HIV and HIV/MDD patients (n = 4 per group) were also used for non-pooled mRNA analysis on Affymetrix U133 Plus 2.0 arrays. We then utilized a method for integrating the two datasets in a Target Bias Analysis. We found miRNAs of three types: A) Those with many dysregulated mRNA targets of less stringent statistical significance, B) Fewer dysregulated target-genes of highly stringent statistical significance, and C) unclear bias. In HIV/MDD, more miRNAs were downregulated than in HIV alone. Specific miRNA families at targeted chromosomal loci were dysregulated. The dysregulated miRNAs clustered on Chromosomes 14, 17, 19, and X. A small subset of dysregulated genes had many 3′ untranslated region (3′UTR) target-sites for dysregulated miRNAs. We provide evidence that certain miRNAs serve as key elements in gene regulatory networks in HIV-infected FC and may be implicated in neurobehavioral disorder. Finally, our data indicates that some genes may serve as hubs of miRNA activity.
Hepatoblastoma (HB) is a common type of primary tumor in children. Previous studies have examined the expression of genes, including transcription factors (TFs), target genes, host genes and microRNAs (miRNAs or miRs) associated with HB. However, the regulatory pathways of miRNAs and genes remain unclear. In the present study, a novel perspective is proposed, which focuses on HB and the associated regulatory pathways, to construct three networks at various levels, including a differentially expressed network, an associated network and a global network. Genes and miRNAs are considered as key factors in the network. In the three networks, the associations between each pair of factors, including TFs that regulate miRNAs, miRNAs that interact with target genes and miRNAs that are located at host genes, were analyzed. The differentially expressed network is considered to be the most crucial of the three networks. All factors in the differentially expressed network were mutated or differentially expressed, which indicated that the majority of the factors were cancerogenic factors that may lead to HB. In addition, the network contained numerous abnormal linkages that may trigger HB. If the expression of each factor was corrected to a normal level, HB may be successfully treated. The associated network included more HB-associated genes and miRNAs, and was useful for analyzing the pathogenesis of HB. By analyzing these close associations, the first and the last factor of the regulatory pathways were revealed to have important roles in HB. For example, v-myc avian myelocytomatosis viral oncogene neuroblastoma derived homolog (MYCN) was observed to regulate Homo sapiens (hsa)-miR-221, hsa-miR-18a and hsa-miR-17-5p, but no miRNAs targeted MYCN. In conclusion, the pathways and mechanisms underlying HB were expounded in the present study, which proposed a fundamental hypothesis for additional studies.
hepatoblastoma; transcription factors; host gene; microRNA; target genes; network
The MYCN oncogene is amplified in 20% of neuroblastomas, leading to its overexpression at both the mRNA and protein levels. MYCN overexpression is strongly associated with advanced disease stage, rapid tumor progression and a worse prognosis. In the present study, we identified microRNA-375 (miRNA-375) as a negative regulator of MYCN: enforced expression of miRNA-375 inhibited MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma in vitro and in vivo. Upon searching the website miRbase for possible miR-375 binding sites within the whole MYCN mRNA, we found that the MYCN 5’-UTR had significant sequence complementarity to miR-375, yet no complementary sequences existed within the MYCN 3’-UTR and coding regions. Enforced overexpression of miRNA-375 efficiently inhibited MYCN mRNA translation and protein synthesis, via an IRES-dependent mechanism. In athymic nude mouse model with human MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma, MYCN downregulation by miRNA-375 led to inhibition of tumor cell growth and tumorigenicity. In particular, miRNA-375-regulated inhibition of MYCN translation was enhanced when MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cells were exposed to stress stimulation, such as ionizing irradiation (IR), resulting in a remarkable increase in the neuroblastoma's sensitivity to IR-induced cell death. Our results identified a novel mechanism by which IRES-dependent translation of MYCN is repressed by miR-375, particularly during cellular stress, highlighting a potential anticancer strategy: the development of miR-375 as a novel therapeutic agent to treat MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma.
miR-375; MYCN; IRES; neuroblastoma; ionizing irradiation
Various microRNAs (miRNAs) are up- or downregulated in tumors. However, the repression of cognate miRNA targets responsible for the phenotypic effects of this dysregulation in patients remains largely unexplored. To define miRNA targets and associated pathways, together with their relationship to outcome in breast cancer, we integrated patient-paired miRNA-mRNA expression data with a set of validated miRNA targets and pathway inference.
To generate a biochemically-validated set of miRNA-binding sites, we performed argonaute-2 photoactivatable-ribonucleoside-enhanced crosslinking and immunoprecipitation (AGO2-PAR-CLIP) in MCF7 cells. We then defined putative miRNA-target interactions using a computational model, which ranked and selected additional TargetScan-predicted interactions based on features of our AGO2-PAR-CLIP binding-site data. We subselected modeled interactions according to the abundance of their constituent miRNA and mRNA transcripts in tumors, and we took advantage of the variability of miRNA expression within molecular subtypes to detect miRNA repression. Interestingly, our data suggest that miRNA families control subtype-specific pathways; for example, miR-17, miR-19a, miR-25, and miR-200b show high miRNA regulatory activity in the triple-negative, basal-like subtype, whereas miR-22 and miR-24 do so in the HER2 subtype. An independent dataset validated our findings for miR-17 and miR-25, and showed a correlation between the expression levels of miR-182 targets and overall patient survival. Pathway analysis associated miR-17, miR-19a, and miR-200b with leukocyte transendothelial migration.
We combined PAR-CLIP data with patient expression data to predict regulatory miRNAs, revealing potential therapeutic targets and prognostic markers in breast cancer.
MicroRNAs contribute to the pathogenesis of many forms of cancer, including the pediatric cancer neuroblastoma, but the underlying mechanisms leading to altered miRNA expression are often unknown. Here, a novel integrated approach for analyzing DNA methylation coupled with miRNA and mRNA expression data sets identified 67 epigenetically regulated miRNA in neuroblastoma. A large proportion (42%) of these miRNAs were associated with poor patient survival when under-expressed in tumors. Moreover, we demonstrate that this panel of epigenetically silenced miRNAs targets a large set of genes that are over-expressed in tumors from patients with poor survival in a highly redundant manner. The genes targeted by the epigenetically regulated miRNAs are enriched for a number of biological processes, including regulation of cell differentiation. Functional studies involving ectopic over-expression of several of the epigenetically silenced miRNAs had a negative impact on neuroblastoma cell viability, providing further support to the concept that inactivation of these miRNAs is important for neuroblastoma disease pathogenesis. One locus, miR-340, induced either differentiation or apoptosis in a cell context dependent manner, indicating a tumor suppressive function for this miRNA. Intriguingly, it was determined that miR-340 is up-regulated by demethylation of an upstream genomic region that occurs during the process of neuroblastoma cell differentiation induced by all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA). Further biological studies of miR-340 revealed that it directly represses the SOX2 transcription factor by targeting of its 3’ UTR, explaining the mechanism by which SOX2 is down-regulated by ATRA. Although SOX2 contributes to the maintenance of stem cells in an undifferentiated state, we demonstrate that miR-340 mediated down-regulation of SOX2 is not required for ATRA induced differentiation to occur. In summary, our results exemplify the dynamic nature of the miRNA epigenome and identify a remarkable network of miRNA/mRNA interactions that significantly contribute to neuroblastoma disease pathogenesis.
miRNA; methylation; tumor suppressor; neuroblastoma; SOX2
MicroRNAs are a class of small noncoding RNAs that are abnormally expressed in different cancer cells. Molecular signature of miRNAs in different malignancies suggests that these are not only actively involved in the pathogenesis of human cancer but also have a significant role in patients survival. The differential expression patterns of specific miRNAs in a specific cancer tissue type have been reported in hundreds of research articles. However limited attempt has been made to collate this multitude of information and obtain a global perspective of miRNA dysregulation in multiple cancer types.
In this article a cancer-miRNA network is developed by mining the literature of experimentally verified cancer-miRNA relationships. This network throws up several new and interesting biological insights which were not evident in individual experiments, but become evident when studied in the global perspective. From the network a number of cancer-miRNA modules have been identified based on a computational approach to mine associations between cancer types and miRNAs. The modules that are generated based on these association are found to have a number of common predicted target onco/tumor suppressor genes. This suggests a combinatorial effect of the module associated miRNAs on target gene regulation in selective cancer tissues or cell lines. Moreover, neighboring miRNAs (group of miRNAs that are located within 50 kb of genomic location) of these modules show similar dysregulation patterns suggesting common regulatory pathway. Besides this, neighboring miRNAs may also show a similar dysregulation patterns (differentially coexpressed) in the cancer tissues. In this study, we found that in 67% of the cancer types have at least two neighboring miRNAs showing downregulation which is statistically significant (P < 10-7, Randomization test). A similar result is obtained for the neighboring miRNAs showing upregulation in specific cancer type. These results elucidate the fact that the neighboring miRNAs might be differentially coexpressed in cancer tissues as that of the normal tissue types. Additionally, cancer-miRNA network efficiently detect hub miRNAs dysregulated in many cancer types and identify cancer specific miRNAs. Depending on the expression patterns, it is possible to identify those hubs that have strong oncogenic or tumor suppressor characteristics.
Limited work has been done towards revealing the fact that a number of miRNAs can control commonly altered regulatory pathways. However, this becomes immediately evident by accompanying the analysis of cancer-miRNA relationships in the proposed network model. These raise many unaddressed issues in miRNA research that have never been reported previously. These observations are expected to have an intense implication in cancer and may be useful for further research.
MYCN amplification occurs in around 25% of neuroblastomas, and is associated with rapid tumor progression and poor prognosis. MYCN plays a paradoxical role in driving cellular proliferation and inducing apoptosis. We previously observed nuclear p53 accumulation in neuroblastoma and hypothesize that MYCN regulates p53 in neuroblastoma. Immunohistochemical analysis of 82 neuroblastoma tumors demonstrated an association between high p53 expression and MYCN expression and MYCN amplification. In a panel of 5 MYCN amplified and 5 non-amplified neuroblastoma cell lines and also the Tet21N regulatable MYCN expression system there was a correlation between p53 expression and MYCN expression. Knockdown of MYCN in 2 MYCN amplified cell lines led to a decrease in p53 expression. Tet21N MYCN+ cells expressed higher p53 mRNA and protein, and had greater p53 transcriptional activity, in comparison with Tet21N MYCN− cells. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation and reporter gene assays, MYCN was found to bind directly to an E-Box motif located close to the transcriptional start site within the p53 promoter and initiate transcription. Mutation of the E-Box led to a decrease in MYCN driven transcriptional activity. Microarray analysis of Tet21N MYCN+/− cells showed that several p53 regulated genes were upregulated in the presence of MYCN, including MDM2 and PUMA. Knockdown of MYCN and p53 in a MYCN amplified cell line led to reduced PUMA levels and other markers of apoptosis. We conclude that MYCN transcriptionally upregulates p53 expression in neuroblastoma and may be an important mechanism by which MYCN induces apoptosis.
p53; MYCN; neuroblastoma; chromatin immunoprecipitation; microarray
microRNA (miRNA) are short, noncoding RNA that negatively regulate gene expression and may play a causal role in invasive breast cancer. Since many genetic aberrations of invasive disease are detectable in early stages, we hypothesized that miRNA expression dysregulation and the predicted changes in gene expression might also be found in early breast neoplasias.
Expression profiling of 365 miRNA by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction assay was combined with laser capture microdissection to obtain an epithelium-specific miRNA expression signature of normal breast epithelium from reduction mammoplasty (RM) (n = 9) and of paired samples of histologically normal epithelium (HN) and ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) (n = 16). To determine how miRNA may control the expression of codysregulated mRNA, we also performed gene expression microarray analysis in the same paired HN and DCIS samples and integrated this with miRNA target prediction. We further validated several target pairs by modulating the expression levels of miRNA in MCF7 cells and measured the expression of target mRNA and proteins.
Thirty-five miRNA were aberrantly expressed between RM, HN and DCIS. Twenty-nine miRNA and 420 mRNA were aberrantly expressed between HN and DCIS. Combining these two data sets with miRNA target prediction, we identified two established target pairs (miR-195:CCND1 and miR-21:NFIB) and tested several novel miRNA:mRNA target pairs. Overexpression of the putative tumor suppressor miR-125b, which is underexpressed in DCIS, repressed the expression of MEMO1, which is required for ErbB2-driven cell motility (also a target of miR-125b), and NRIP1/RIP140, which modulates the transcriptional activity of the estrogen receptor. Knockdown of the putative oncogenic miRNA miR-182 and miR-183, both highly overexpressed in DCIS, increased the expression of chromobox homolog 7 (CBX7) (which regulates E-cadherin expression), DOK4, NMT2 and EGR1. Augmentation of CBX7 by knockdown of miR-182 expression, in turn, positively regulated the expression of E-cadherin, a key protein involved in maintaining normal epithelial cell morphology, which is commonly lost during neoplastic progression.
These data provide the first miRNA expression profile of normal breast epithelium and of preinvasive breast carcinoma. Further, we demonstrate that altered miRNA expression can modulate gene expression changes that characterize these early cancers. We conclude that miRNA dysregulation likely plays a substantial role in early breast cancer development.
Kaposi’s sarcoma associated herpesvirus (KSHV) causes several tumors, including primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) and Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS). Cellular and viral microRNAs (miRNAs) have been shown to play important roles in regulating gene expression. A better knowledge of the miRNA-mediated pathways affected by KSHV infection is therefore important for understanding viral infection and tumor pathogenesis. In this study, we used deep sequencing to analyze miRNA and cellular mRNA expression in a cell line with latent KSHV infection (SLKK) as compared to the uninfected SLK line. This approach revealed 153 differentially expressed human miRNAs, eight of which were independently confirmed by qRT-PCR. KSHV infection led to the dysregulation of ~15% of the human miRNA pool and most of these cellular miRNAs were down-regulated, including nearly all members of the 14q32 miRNA cluster, a genomic locus linked to cancer and that is deleted in a number of PEL cell lines. Furthermore, we identified 48 miRNAs that were associated with a total of 1,117 predicted or experimentally validated target mRNAs; of these mRNAs, a majority (73%) were inversely correlated to expression changes of their respective miRNAs, suggesting miRNA-mediated silencing mechanisms were involved in a number of these alterations. Several dysregulated miRNA-mRNA pairs may facilitate KSHV infection or tumor formation, such as up-regulated miR-708-5p, associated with a decrease in pro-apoptotic caspase-2 and leukemia inhibitory factor LIF, or down-regulated miR-409-5p, associated with an increase in the p53-inhibitor MDM2. Transfection of miRNA mimics provided further evidence that changes in miRNAs are driving some observed mRNA changes. Using filtered datasets, we also identified several canonical pathways that were significantly enriched in differentially expressed miRNA-mRNA pairs, such as the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and the interleukin-8 signaling pathways. Overall, our data provide a more detailed understanding of KSHV latency and guide further studies of the biological significance of these changes.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small endogenous non-coding RNAs that control genes at post-transcriptional level. They are essential for development and tissue differentiation, and such altered miRNA expression patterns are linked to the pathogenesis of inflammation and cancer. There is evidence that miRNA expression is genetically controlled similar to the transcription of protein-coding genes and previous studies identified quantitative trait loci (QTL) for miRNA expression in the liver. So far, little attention has been paid to miRNA expression in the skin. Moreover, epistatic control of miRNA expression remains unknown. In this study, we characterize genetic regulation of cutaneous miRNA and their correlation with skin inflammation using a previously established murine autoimmune-prone advanced intercross line.
We identified in silico 42 eQTL controlling the expression of 38 cutaneous miRNAs and furthermore found two chromosomal hot-spots on chromosomes 2 and 8 that control the expression of multiple miRNAs. Moreover, for 8 miRNAs an interacting effect from pairs of SNPs was observed. Combining the constraints on genes from the statistical interaction of their loci and further using curated protein interaction networks, the number of candidate genes for association of miRNAs was reduced to a set of several genes. A cluster analysis identified miR-379 and miR-223 to be associated with EBA severity/onset, where miR-379 was observed to be associated to loci on chromosome 6.
The murine advanced intercross line allowed us to identify the genetic loci regulating multiple miRNA in skin. The recurrence of trans-eQTL and epistasis suggest that cutaneous miRNAs are regulated by yet an unexplored complex gene networks. Further, using co-expression analysis of miRNA expression levels we showed that multiple miRNA contribute to multiple pathways that might be involved in pathogenesis of autoimmune skin blistering disease. Specifically, we provide evidence that miRNA such as miR-223 and miR-379 may play critical role in disease progression and severity.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12864-016-2455-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
MicroRNA; Expression QTL; Epistasis; Autoimmune skin blistering disease; Co-expression analysis
microRNAs (miRNAs) are key regulators of gene expression and play important roles in many aspects of plant biology. The role(s) of miRNAs in nitrogen-fixing root nodules of leguminous plants such as soybean is not well understood. We examined a library of small RNAs from Bradyrhizobium japonicum-inoculated soybean roots and identified novel miRNAs. In order to enhance our understanding of miRNA evolution, diversification and function, we classified all known soybean miRNAs based on their phylogenetic conservation (conserved, legume- and soybean-specific miRNAs) and examined their genome organization, family characteristics and target diversity. We predicted targets of these miRNAs and experimentally validated several of them. We also examined organ-specific expression of selected miRNAs and their targets.
We identified 120 previously unknown miRNA genes from soybean including 5 novel miRNA families. In the soybean genome, genes encoding miRNAs are primarily intergenic and a small percentage were intragenic or less than 1000 bp from a protein-coding gene, suggesting potential co-regulation between the miRNA and its parent gene. Difference in number and orientation of tandemly duplicated miRNA genes between orthologous genomic loci indicated continuous evolution and diversification. Conserved miRNA families are often larger in size and produce less diverse mature miRNAs than legume- and soybean-specific families. In addition, the majority of conserved and legume-specific miRNA families produce 21 nt long mature miRNAs with distinct nucleotide distribution and regulate a more conserved set of target mRNAs compared to soybean-specific families. A set of nodule-specific target mRNAs and their cognate regulatory miRNAs had inverse expression between root and nodule tissues suggesting that spatial restriction of target gene transcripts by miRNAs might govern nodule-specific gene expression in soybean.
Genome organization of soybean miRNAs suggests that they are actively evolving. Distinct family characteristics of soybean miRNAs suggest continuous diversification of function. Inverse organ-specific expression between selected miRNAs and their targets in the roots and nodules, suggested a potential role for these miRNAs in regulating nodule development.
microRNA; Soybean; Genome organization; Evolution; Nodulation
MicroRNAs are a class of small non-coding RNAs that regulate mRNA expression at the post - transcriptional level and thereby many fundamental biological processes. A number of methods, such as multiplex polymerase chain reaction, microarrays have been developed for profiling levels of known miRNAs. These methods lack the ability to identify novel miRNAs and accurately determine expression at a range of concentrations. Deep or massively parallel sequencing methods are providing suitable platforms for genome wide transcriptome analysis and have the ability to identify novel transcripts.
The results of analysis of small RNA sequences obtained by Solexa technology of normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells, tumor cell lines K562 and HL60 are presented. In general K562 cells displayed overall low level of miRNA population and also low levels of DICER. Some of the highly expressed miRNAs in the leukocytes include several members of the let-7 family, miR-21, 103, 185, 191 and 320a. Comparison of the miRNA profiles of normal versus K562 or HL60 cells revealed a specific set of differentially expressed molecules. Correlation of the miRNA with that of mRNA expression profiles, obtained by microarray, revealed a set of target genes showing inverse correlation with miRNA levels. Relative expression levels of individual miRNAs belonging to a cluster were found to be highly variable. Our computational pipeline also predicted a number of novel miRNAs. Some of the predictions were validated by Real-time RT-PCR and or RNase protection assay. Organization of some of the novel miRNAs in human genome suggests that these may also be part of existing clusters or form new clusters.
We conclude that about 904 miRNAs are expressed in human leukocytes. Out of these 370 are novel miRNAs. We have identified miRNAs that are differentially regulated in normal PBMC with respect to cancer cells, K562 and HL60. Our results suggest that post - transcriptional processes may play a significant role in regulating levels of miRNAs in tumor cells. The study also provides a customized automated computation pipeline for miRNA profiling and identification of novel miRNAs; even those that are missed out by other existing pipelines. The Computational Pipeline is available at the website: http://mirna.jnu.ac.in/deep_sequencing/deep_sequencing.html
KSHV is the etiological agent of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS), primary effusion lymphoma (PEL), and a subset of multicentricCastleman's disease (MCD). The fact that KSHV-encoded miRNAs are readily detectable in all KSHV-associated tumors suggests a potential role in viral pathogenesis and tumorigenesis. MiRNA-mediated regulation of gene expression is a complex network with each miRNA having many potential targets, and to date only few KSHV miRNA targets have been experimentally determined. A detailed understanding of KSHV miRNA functions requires high-through putribonomics to globally analyze putative miRNA targets in a cell type-specific manner. We performed Ago HITS-CLIP to identify viral and cellular miRNAs and their cognate targets in two latently KSHV-infected PEL cell lines. Ago HITS-CLIP recovered 1170 and 950 cellular KSHVmiRNA targets from BCBL-1 and BC-3, respectively. Importantly, enriched clusters contained KSHV miRNA seed matches in the 3′UTRs of numerous well characterized targets, among them THBS1, BACH1, and C/EBPβ. KSHV miRNA targets were strongly enriched for genes involved in multiple pathways central for KSHV biology, such as apoptosis, cell cycle regulation, lymphocyte proliferation, and immune evasion, thus further supporting a role in KSHV pathogenesis and potentially tumorigenesis. A limited number of viral transcripts were also enriched by HITS-CLIP including vIL-6 expressed only in a subset of PEL cells during latency. Interestingly, Ago HITS-CLIP revealed extremely high levels of Ago-associated KSHV miRNAs especially in BC-3 cells where more than 70% of all miRNAs are of viral origin. This suggests that in addition to seed match-specific targeting of cellular genes, KSHV miRNAs may also function by hijacking RISCs, thereby contributing to a global de-repression of cellular gene expression due to the loss of regulation by human miRNAs. In summary, we provide an extensive list of cellular and viral miRNA targets representing an important resource to decipher KSHV miRNA function.
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus is the etiological agent of KS and two lymphoproliferative diseases: multicentricCastleman's disease and primary effusion lymphomas (PEL). KSHV tumors are the most prevalent AIDS malignancies and within Sub-Saharan Africa KS is the most common cancer in males, both in the presence and absence of HIV infection. KSHV encodes 12 miRNA genes whose function is largely unknown. Viral miRNAs are incorporated into RISCs, which regulate gene expression mostly by binding to 3′UTRs of mRNAs to inhibit their translation and/or induce degradation. The small subset of viral miRNA targets identified to date suggests that these small posttranscriptional regulators target important cellular pathways involved in pathogenesis and tumorgenesis. Using Ago HITS-CLIP, a technique which combines UV cross-linking, immunoprecipitation of Ago-miRNA-mRNA complexes, and high throughput sequencing, we performed a detailed analysis of the KSHV miRNA targetome in two commonly studied PEL cell lines, BCBL-1 and BC-3 and identified 1170 and 950 putative miRNA targets, respectively. This data set provides a valuable resource to decipher how KSHV miRNAs contribute to viral biology and pathogenesis.
Breast cancer (BC) is the second most common source of metastatic lesions to the CNS, yet the mechanisms by which metastatic BC cells (BMET) survive in the brain remain poorly understood. Given their ability to regulate the expression of multiple mRNA targets, microRNAs (miRNA) may play a critical role. miRNA dysregulation has been observed in both primary and metastatic tumors, and can be actively exchanged between cancer cells and the surrounding stroma via extracellular vesicles (EVs). Our overall hypothesis is that microRNAs released by BMETs are important mediators of communication between tumor and stromal astrocytes (SAs), resulting in measurable changes to the miRNA and target gene expression profile of both donor and recipient cells. Identified miRNA signatures could serve as important biomarkers of metastatic potential and provide new targets for novel therapeutic interventions. Here, we use an in vitro co-culture model to characterize the miRNA signature of BMETs, SAs, and the EVs exchanged between them. We show that the mature miRNA expression profiles could reliably distinguish between BMETs cultured in isolation or co-cultured with astrocytes. Isolated EVs showed enrichment for a specific set of miRNAs, which were differentially expressed between BMETs and SAs. A subset of these miRNAs, not normally expressed in BMETs, was particularly abundant in EVs. They were not transcriptionally induced, implicating EV-mediated transport from SAs to BC cells. Bio-informatic analysis revealed multiple miRNA targets in the pro-apoptotic pathway, which were validated by qPCR and WB. Functional analysis revealed that over-expression protected cells from apoptosis, while miRNA-knockdown induced it. Thus, infiltrating BMETs can harness anti-apoptotic miRNAs from reactive astrocytes, thereby promoting survival and growth. This work identifies novel targets for therapeutic intervention, which could prevent micrometastases from progressing to clinically relevant lesions in the brain. These findings are currently being tested in vivo using a mouse xenograft model.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are 21-24 nucleotide RNA molecules that regulate the translation and stability of target messenger RNAs. Abnormal miRNA expression is a common feature of diverse cancers. Several previous studies have classified miRNA expression in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), although no uniform pattern of miRNA dysregulation has emerged. To clarify these previous findings as well as to set the stage for detailed functional analyses, we performed global miRNA expression profiling of 21 human PDAC cell lines, the most extensive panel studied to date. Overall, 39 miRNAs were found to be dysregulated and have at least two-fold or greater differential expression in PDAC cell lines compared to control non-transformed pancreatic ductal cell lines. Several of these miRNAs show comparable dysregulation in first-passage patient-derived xenografts. Initial functional analyses demonstrate that enforced expression of miRNAs derived from the miR-200 family and the miR-17-92 cluster, both of which are overexpressed in PDAC cell lines, enhances proliferation. In contrast, inhibition of the miR-200 family, the miR-17-92 cluster, or miR-191 diminishes anchorage independent growth. Consistent with a known role for the miR-200 family in negatively regulating an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), the abundance of these miRNAs correlated positively with E-cadherin expression and negatively with the EMT-associated transcription factor and established miR-200 target ZEB1. Finally, restituted expression of miR-34a, a miRNA whose expression is frequently lost in PDAC cell lines, abrogates growth, demonstrating that the anti-proliferative activity of this miRNA is operative in PDAC. These results, and the widespread availability of PDAC cell lines wherein the aforementioned data were generated, provide a valuable resource for the pancreatic cancer research community and will greatly facilitate functional studies essential for elucidating the consequences of miRNA dysregulation in pancreatic cancer.
microRNA; miR-200; pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma; microarray; oncogene; gene expression
The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Network recently comprehensively catalogued the molecular aberrations in 487 high-grade serous ovarian cancers, with much remaining to be elucidated regarding the microRNAs (miRNAs). Here, using TCGA ovarian data, we surveyed the miRNAs, in the context of their predicted gene targets.
Methods and Results
Integration of miRNA and gene patterns yielded evidence that proximal pairs of miRNAs are processed from polycistronic primary transcripts, and that intronic miRNAs and their host gene mRNAs derive from common transcripts. Patterns of miRNA expression revealed multiple tumor subtypes and a set of 34 miRNAs predictive of overall patient survival. In a global analysis, miRNA:mRNA pairs anti-correlated in expression across tumors showed a higher frequency of in silico predicted target sites in the mRNA 3′-untranslated region (with less frequency observed for coding sequence and 5′-untranslated regions). The miR-29 family and predicted target genes were among the most strongly anti-correlated miRNA:mRNA pairs; over-expression of miR-29a in vitro repressed several anti-correlated genes (including DNMT3A and DNMT3B) and substantially decreased ovarian cancer cell viability.
This study establishes miRNAs as having a widespread impact on gene expression programs in ovarian cancer, further strengthening our understanding of miRNA biology as it applies to human cancer. As with gene transcripts, miRNAs exhibit high diversity reflecting the genomic heterogeneity within a clinically homogeneous disease population. Putative miRNA:mRNA interactions, as identified using integrative analysis, can be validated. TCGA data are a valuable resource for the identification of novel tumor suppressive miRNAs in ovarian as well as other cancers.