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1.  Ectopic MicroRNA-150-5p Transcription Sensitizes Glucocorticoid Therapy Response in MM1S Multiple Myeloma Cells but Fails to Overcome Hormone Therapy Resistance in MM1R Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e113842.
Glucocorticoids (GCs) selectively trigger cell death in the multiple myeloma cell line MM1S which express NR3C1/Glucocorticoid Receptor (GR) protein, but fail to kill MM1R cells which lack GR protein. Given recent demonstrations of altered microRNA profiles in a diverse range of haematological malignancies and drug resistance, we characterized GC inducible mRNA and microRNA transcription profiles in GC sensitive MM1S as compared to GC resistant MM1R cells. Transcriptome analysis revealed that GCs regulate expression of multiple genes involved in cell cycle control, cell organization, cell death and immunological disease in MM1S cells, which remain unaffected in MM1R cells. With respect to microRNAs, mir-150-5p was identified as the most time persistent GC regulated microRNA, out of 5 QPCR validated microRNAs (mir-26b, mir-125a-5p, mir-146-5p, mir-150-5p, and mir-184), which are GC inducible in MM1S but not in MM1R cells. Functional studies further revealed that ectopic transfection of a synthetic mir-150-5p mimics GR dependent gene expression changes involved in cell death and cell proliferation pathways. Remarkably, despite the gene expression changes observed, overexpression of mir-150-5p in absence of GCs did not trigger significant cytotoxicity in MM1S or MM1R cells. This suggests the requirement of additional steps in GC induced cell death, which can not be mimicked by mir-150-5p overexpression alone. Interestingly, a combination of mir-150-5p transfection with low doses GC in MM1S cells was found to sensitize therapy response, whereas opposite effects could be observed with a mir-150-5p specific antagomir. Although mir-150-5p overexpression did not substantially change GR expression levels, it was found that mir-150-5p evokes GR specific effects through indirect mRNA regulation of GR interacting transcription factors and hormone receptors, GR chaperones, as well as various effectors of unfolded protein stress and chemokine signalling. Altogether GC-inducible mir-150-5p adds another level of regulation to GC specific therapeutic responses in multiple myeloma.
PMCID: PMC4256227  PMID: 25474406
2.  MicroRNA expression in multiple myeloma is associated with genetic subtype, isotype and survival 
Biology Direct  2011;6:23.
MicroRNAs are small RNA species that regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally and are aberrantly expressed in many cancers including hematological malignancies. However, the role of microRNAs in the pathogenesis of multiple myeloma (MM) is only poorly understood. We therefore used microarray analysis to elucidate the complete miRNome (miRBase version 13.0) of purified tumor (CD138+) cells from 33 patients with MM, 5 patients with monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) and 9 controls.
Unsupervised cluster analysis revealed that MM and MGUS samples have a distinct microRNA expression profile from control CD138+ cells. The majority of microRNAs aberrantly expressed in MM (109/129) were up-regulated. A comparison of these microRNAs with those aberrantly expressed in other B-cell and T-cell malignancies revealed a surprising degree of similarity (~40%) suggesting the existence of a common lymphoma microRNA signature. We identified 39 microRNAs associated with the pre-malignant condition MGUS. Twenty-three (59%) of these were also aberrantly expressed in MM suggesting common microRNA expression events in MM progression. MM is characterized by multiple chromosomal abnormalities of varying prognostic significance. We identified specific microRNA signatures associated with the most common IgH translocations (t(4;14) and t(11;14)) and del(13q). Expression levels of these microRNAs were distinct between the genetic subtypes (by cluster analysis) and correctly predicted these abnormalities in > 85% of cases using the support vector machine algorithm. Additionally, we identified microRNAs associated with light chain only myeloma, as well as IgG and IgA-type MM. Finally, we identified 32 microRNAs associated with event-free survival (EFS) in MM, ten of which were significant by univariate (logrank) survival analysis.
In summary, this work has identified aberrantly expressed microRNAs associated with the diagnosis, pathogenesis and prognosis of MM, data which will prove an invaluable resource for understanding the role of microRNAs in this devastating disease.
This article was reviewed by Prof. Neil Smalheiser, Prof. Yuriy Gusev, and an unknown reviewer.
PMCID: PMC3120802  PMID: 21592325
3.  Identification of circulating microRNAs as diagnostic biomarkers for use in multiple myeloma 
British Journal of Cancer  2012;107(12):1987-1996.
Multiple myeloma is a plasma cell disorder that is characterised by clonal proliferation of malignant plasma cells in the bone marrow, monoclonal paraprotein in the blood or urine and associated organ dysfunction. It accounts for approximately 1% of cancers and 13% of haematological cancers. Myeloma arises from an asymptomatic proliferation of monoclonal plasma cells termed monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS).
MicroRNA expression profiling of serum samples was performed on three patient groups as well as normal controls. Validation of the nine microRNAs detected as promising biomarkers was carried out using TaqMan quantitative reverse transcription PCR. MicroRNA levels in serum were normalised using standard curves to determine the numbers of microRNAs per μl of serum.
Three serum microRNAs, miR-720, miR-1308 and miR-1246, were found to have potential as diagnostic biomarkers in myeloma. Use of miR-720 and miR-1308 together provides a powerful diagnostic tool for distinguishing normal healthy controls, as well as patients with unrelated illnesses, from pre-cancerous myeloma and myeloma patients. In addition, the combination of miR-1246 and miR-1308 can distinguish MGUS from myeloma patients.
We have developed a biomarker signature using microRNAs extracted from serum, which has potential as a diagnostic and prognostic tool for multiple myeloma.
PMCID: PMC3516695  PMID: 23169280
myeloma; microRNAs; biomarkers; diagnostics; cleaved tRNA; serum miRNAs
4.  Analysis of deep sequencing microRNA expression profile from human embryonic stem cells derived mesenchymal stem cells reveals possible role of let-7 microRNA family in downstream targeting of Hepatic Nuclear Factor 4 Alpha 
BMC Genomics  2010;11(Suppl 1):S6.
Recent literature has revealed that genetic exchange of microRNA between cells can be essential for cell-cell communication, tissue-specificity and developmental processes. In stem cells, as in other cells, this can be accomplished through microvesicles or exosome mediated transfer. However, molecular profiles and functions of microRNAs within the cells and in their exosomes are poorly studied. Next generation sequencing technologies could provide a broad-spectrum of microRNAs and their expression and identify possible microRNA targets. In this work, we performed deep sequencing of microRNAs to understand the profile and expression of the microRNAs in microvesicles and intracellular environment of human embryonic stem cells derived mesenchymal stem cells (hES-MSC).
We outline a workflow pertaining to visualizing, statistical analysis and interpreting deep sequencing data of known intracellular and extracellular microRNAs from hES-MSC). We utilized these results of which directed our attention towards establishing hepatic nuclear factor 4 alpha (HNF4A) as a downstream target of let-7 family of microRNAs.
In our study, significant differences in expression profile of microRNAs were found in the intracellular and extracellular environment of hES-MSC. However, a high level of let-7 family of microRNAs is predominant in both intra- and extra- cellular samples of hES-MSC. Further results derived from visualization of our alignment data and network analysis showed that let-7 family microRNAs could affect the downstream target HNF4A, which is a known endodermal differentiation marker. The elevated presence of let-7 microRNA in both intracellular and extra cellular environment further suggests a possible intercellular signalling mechanism through microvesicles transfer. We suggest that let-7 family microRNAs might play a signalling role via such a mechanism amongst populations of stem cells in maintaining self renewal property by suppressing HNF4A expression. This is in line with recent paradigm where microRNAs regulate self-renewal and differentiation pathways of embryonic stem cells by forming an integral biological network with transcription factors.
In summary, our study using a combination of alignment, statistical and network analysis tools to examine deep sequencing data of microRNAs in hES-MSC has led to a result that (i) identifies intracellular and exosome microRNA expression profiles of hES-MSCwith a possible mechanism of miRNA mediated intercellular regulation by these cells and (ii) placed HNF4A within the cross roads of regulation by the let-7 family of microRNAs.
PMCID: PMC2822534  PMID: 20158877
5.  Reduced expression of microRNA-27a modulates cisplatin resistance in bladder cancer by targeting the cystine/glutamate exchanger SLC7A11 
Resistance to cisplatin-based chemotherapy is a major obstacle to bladder cancer treatment. We aimed to identify microRNAs that are dysregulated in cisplatin-resistant disease, ascertain how these contribute to a drug resistant phenotype and how this resistance might be overcome.
Experimental Design
MicroRNA expression in paired cisplatin resistant and sensitive cell lines was measured. Dysregulated microRNAs were further studied for their ability to mediate resistance. The nature of the cisplatin resistant phenotype was established by measurement of cisplatin/DNA adducts and intracellular glutathione. Candidate microRNAs were examined for their ability to (i) mediate resistance and (ii) alter the expression of a candidate target protein (SLC7A11); direct regulation of SLC7A11 was confirmed using a luciferase assay. SLC7A11 protein and mRNA, and microRNA-27a were quantified in patient tumour material.
A panel of microRNAs were found to be dysregulated in cisplatin resistant cells. MicroRNA-27a was found to target the cystine/glutamate exchanger SLC7A11 and to contribute to cisplatin resistance through modulation of glutathione biosynthesis. In patients, SLC7A11 expression was inversely related to microRNA-27a expression, and those tumors with high mRNA expression or high membrane staining for SLC7A11 experienced poorer clinical outcomes. Resistant cell lines were resensitized by restoring microRNA-27a expression, or reducing SLC7A11 activity with an siRNA or with sulfasalazine.
Our findings indicate that microRNA-27a negatively regulates SLC7A11 in cisplatin-resistant bladder cancer, and shows promise as a marker for patients likely to benefit from cisplatin-based chemotherapy. SLC7A11 inhibition with sulfasalazine may be a promising therapeutic approach to the treatment of cisplatin-resistant disease.
PMCID: PMC3974662  PMID: 24516043
6.  Network Modeling Identifies Molecular Functions Targeted by miR-204 to Suppress Head and Neck Tumor Metastasis 
PLoS Computational Biology  2010;6(4):e1000730.
Due to the large number of putative microRNA gene targets predicted by sequence-alignment databases and the relative low accuracy of such predictions which are conducted independently of biological context by design, systematic experimental identification and validation of every functional microRNA target is currently challenging. Consequently, biological studies have yet to identify, on a genome scale, key regulatory networks perturbed by altered microRNA functions in the context of cancer. In this report, we demonstrate for the first time how phenotypic knowledge of inheritable cancer traits and of risk factor loci can be utilized jointly with gene expression analysis to efficiently prioritize deregulated microRNAs for biological characterization. Using this approach we characterize miR-204 as a tumor suppressor microRNA and uncover previously unknown connections between microRNA regulation, network topology, and expression dynamics. Specifically, we validate 18 gene targets of miR-204 that show elevated mRNA expression and are enriched in biological processes associated with tumor progression in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC). We further demonstrate the enrichment of bottleneckness, a key molecular network topology, among miR-204 gene targets. Restoration of miR-204 function in HNSCC cell lines inhibits the expression of its functionally related gene targets, leads to the reduced adhesion, migration and invasion in vitro and attenuates experimental lung metastasis in vivo. As importantly, our investigation also provides experimental evidence linking the function of microRNAs that are located in the cancer-associated genomic regions (CAGRs) to the observed predisposition to human cancers. Specifically, we show miR-204 may serve as a tumor suppressor gene at the 9q21.1–22.3 CAGR locus, a well established risk factor locus in head and neck cancers for which tumor suppressor genes have not been identified. This new strategy that integrates expression profiling, genetics and novel computational biology approaches provides for improved efficiency in characterization and modeling of microRNA functions in cancer as compared to the state of art and is applicable to the investigation of microRNA functions in other biological processes and diseases.
Author Summary
MicroRNAs regulate the expression of genes in cells and are important in cancer development and progression. Designing new microRNA-based treatments requires the understanding of their mechanisms of action. Previous biological studies lack in depth since only a few genes are confirmed as microRNA targets. Additionally, key biological systems perturbed by altered microRNA functions in the context of cancer remain to be identified. Here, we demonstrate for the first time how genetic knowledge about the inheritance of cancer can be utilized jointly with data about the expression of genes in cancer samples to model deregulated microRNAs and their functions at multiple scales of biology. Our approach further uncovers previously unknown connections between microRNAs, their regulated genes, and their dynamics. Using head and neck cancer as a model, we predict the presence, functions, and gene targets of a new tumor suppressor microRNA in a cancer-associated chromosomal region where a candidate gene has not been identified. We then confirm their validity with extensive and thorough biological characterization and show attenuation of lung metastasis in mice. The discovery of molecular networks regulated by microRNAs could be exploited for the design of new treatments as an alternative to the single-gene target paradigm.
PMCID: PMC2848541  PMID: 20369013
7.  Dynamic microRNA Profiles of Hepatic Differentiated Human Umbilical Cord Lining-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44737.
Despite the extensive hepatic differentiation potential of human umbilical cord lining-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hUC-MSC), little is known about the molecular mechanisms of hUC-MSC differentiation. At the post-transcriptional level, microRNAs are key players in the control of cell fate determination during differentiation. In this study, we aimed to identify microRNAs involved in the hepatic differentiation of hUC-MSCs. After successfully isolating hUC- MSCs, we induced hepatocyte formation in vitro with growth factors. After 26 days of induction, hUC-MSCs could express hepatocyte-specific genes, synthesize urea and glycogen and uptake low-density lipoprotein. Cellular total RNA from hUC-MSCs and hepatic differentiated hUC-MSCs was collected at 7 time points, including 2 days, 6 days, 10 days, 14 days, 22 days and 26 days, for microRNA microarray analysis. Dynamic microRNA profiles were identified that did not overlap or only partially overlapped with microRNAs reported to be involved in human liver development, hepatocyte regeneration or hepatic differentiation of liver-derived progenitor cells. A total of 61 microRNAs among 1205 human and 144 human viral microRNAs displayed consistent changes and were altered at least 2-fold between hUC-MSCs and hepatic differentiated hUC-MSCs. Among these microRNAs, 25 were over-expressed; this over-expression occurred either gradually or increased sharply and was maintained at a high level. A total of 36 microRNAs were under-expressed, with an expression pattern similar to that of the over-expressed microRNAs. The expression of the altered expressed microRNAs was also confirmed by quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction. We also found that microRNAs involved in hepatic differentiation were not enriched in hepatocyte or hepatocellular carcinoma cells and can potentially target liver-enriched transcription factors and genes. The elucidation of the microRNA profile during the hepatic differentiation of hUC-MSCs provides the basis for clarifying the role of microRNAs in hUC-MSC hepatic differentiation and specific microRNA selection for the conversion of hUC-MSCs to hepatocytes.
PMCID: PMC3440352  PMID: 22984549
8.  mRNA and microRNA expression profiles of the NCI-60 integrated with drug activities 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2010;9(5):1080-1091.
As part of the Spotlight on Molecular Profiling series, we present here new profiling studies of mRNA and microRNA expression for the 60 cell lines of the NCI DTP drug screen (NCI-60) using the 41,000-probe Agilent Whole Human Genome Oligo Microarray and the 15,000-feature Agilent Human microRNA Microarray V2. The expression levels of ~21,000 genes and 723 human microRNAs were measured. These profiling studies include quadruplicate technical replicates for six and eight cell lines for mRNA and microRNA, respectively, and duplicates for the remaining cell lines. The resulting data sets are freely available and searchable online in our CellMiner database. The result indicates high reproducibility for both platforms and an essential biological similarity across the various cell types. The mRNA and microRNA expression levels were integrated with our previously published 1,429-compound database of anticancer activity obtained from the NCI DTP drug screen. Large blocks of both mRNAs and microRNAs were identified with predominately unidirectional correlations to ~1,300 drugs including 121 drugs with known mechanisms of action. The data sets presented here will facilitate the identification of groups of mRNAs, microRNAs and drugs that potentially affect and interact with one another.
PMCID: PMC2879615  PMID: 20442302
mRNA expression; microRNA expression; NCI-60; drug activity
9.  Microarray analysis of microRNA expression in the developing mammalian brain 
Genome Biology  2004;5(9):R68.
A microarray technology suitable for analyzing the expression of microRNAs and of other small RNAs was used to determine the microRNA expression profile during mouse-brain development and observed a temporal wave of gene expression of sequential classes of microRNAs.
MicroRNAs are a large new class of tiny regulatory RNAs found in nematodes, plants, insects and mammals. MicroRNAs are thought to act as post-transcriptional modulators of gene expression. In invertebrates microRNAs have been implicated as regulators of developmental timing, neuronal differentiation, cell proliferation, programmed cell death and fat metabolism. Little is known about the roles of microRNAs in mammals.
We isolated 18-26 nucleotide RNAs from developing rat and monkey brains. From the sequences of these RNAs and the sequences of the rat and human genomes we determined which of these small RNAs are likely to have derived from stem-loop precursors typical of microRNAs. Next, we developed a microarray technology suitable for detecting microRNAs and printed a microRNA microarray representing 138 mammalian microRNAs corresponding to the sequences of the microRNAs we cloned as well as to other known microRNAs. We used this microarray to determine the profile of microRNAs expressed in the developing mouse brain. We observed a temporal wave of expression of microRNAs, suggesting that microRNAs play important roles in the development of the mammalian brain.
We describe a microarray technology that can be used to analyze the expression of microRNAs and of other small RNAs. MicroRNA microarrays offer a new tool that should facilitate studies of the biological roles of microRNAs. We used this method to determine the microRNA expression profile during mouse brain development and observed a temporal wave of gene expression of sequential classes of microRNAs.
PMCID: PMC522875  PMID: 15345052
10.  microRNA Profiling Identifies Cancer-Specific and Prognostic Signatures in Pediatric Malignancies 
microRNAs have been shown to be involved in different human cancers. We therefore have performed expression profiles on a panel of pediatric tumors to identify cancer-specific microRNAs. We also investigated if microRNAs are co-regulated with their host gene.
Experimental Design
We performed parallel microRNAs and mRNA expression profiling on 57 tumor xenografts and cell lines representing 10 different pediatric solid tumors using microarrays. For those microRNAs that map to their host mRNA, we calculated correlations between them.
We found that the majority of cancer types clustered together based on their global microRNA expression profiles by unsupervised hierarchical clustering. Fourteen microRNAs were significantly differentially expressed between rhabdomyosarcoma and neuroblastoma, and 8 of them were validated in independent patient tumor samples. Exploration of the expression of microRNAs in relationship with their host genes demonstrated that the expression for 43 (63%) of 68 microRNAs located inside known coding genes were significantly correlated with that of their host genes. Among these 43 microRNAs, 5 out of 7 microRNAs in the OncomiR-1 cluster correlated significantly with their host gene MIRHG1 (P<0.01). In addition, high expression of MIRHG1 was significantly associated with high stage and MYCN-amplification in neuroblastoma tumors; and the expression level of MIRHG1 could predict the outcome of neuroblastoma patients independently from the current neuroblastoma risk-stratification in two independent patient cohorts.
Pediatric cancers express cancer-specific microRNAs. The high expression of the OncomiR-1 host gene MIRHG1 correlates with poor outcome for patients with neuroblastoma, indicating important oncogenic functions of this microRNA cluster in neuroblastoma biology.
PMCID: PMC2737097  PMID: 19706822
microRNA; gene expression profiling; microarray; pediatric cancer; neuroblastoma; cancer classification; OncomiR-1; MIRHG1; prognosis
11.  MicroRNA signature in massive macronodular adrenocortical disease and implications for adrenocortical tumorigenesis 
Clinical endocrinology  2009;72(6):744-751.
Massive macronodular adrenocortical disease (MMAD) may be caused by aberrant microRNA expression. To determine the microRNA profile in MMAD and identify putative microRNA-gene target pairs involved in adrenal tumorigenesis.
Experimental design
We performed microRNA microarray analysis in 10 patients with ACTH-independent Cushing syndrome caused by MMAD (ages 39 - 60 years) and 4 normal adrenal cortex samples were used as controls. Microarray data were validated by real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Identification of potential microRNA-gene target pairs implicated in MMAD pathogenesis has been done by integrating our microRNA data with previously obtained cDNA microarray data. Experimental validation of specific microRNA gene targets was performed by transfection experiments and luciferase assay.
A total of 37 microRNAs were differentially expressed between MMAD and normal tissues; 16 microRNAs were down-regulated, including miR-200b and miR-203, while 21 microRNAs were up-regulated, miR-210 and miR-484 among them. Comparison of microRNA data with different clinicopathological parameters revealed miR-130a and miR-382 as putative diagnostic MMAD markers. Interestingly, we detected miR-200b targeting directly Matrin 3 (MATR3) expression in an adrenocortical cancer cell line (H295R).
MicroRNAs appear to have distinct regulatory effects in MMAD, including an association with clinical presentation and severity of the disease, expressed by the degree of hypercortisolism. This is the first investigation of microRNAs in MMAD, a disease with complex pathogenesis; the data indicate that specific microRNAs such as miR-200b may play a significant role in MMAD formation and/or progression.
PMCID: PMC3003432  PMID: 19849700
Cushing syndrome; adrenocortical tumors; macronodular adrenal hyperplasia; miR-200b
12.  Heterogeneity of microRNAs expression in cervical cancer cells: over-expression of miR-196a 
In recent years, the study of microRNAs associated with neoplastic processes has increased. Patterns of microRNA expression in different cell lines and different kinds of tumors have been identified; however, little is known about the alterations in regulatory pathways and genes involved in aberrant set of microRNAs. The identification of these altered microRNAs in several cervical cancer cells and potentially deregulated pathways involved constitute the principal goals of the present study. In the present work, the expression profiles of cellular microRNAs in Cervical Cancer tissues and cell lines were explored using microRNA microarray, Affymetrix. The most over-expressed was miR-196a, which was evaluated by real time PCR, and HOXC8 protein as potential target by immunohistochemistry assay. One hundred and twenty three human microRNAs differentially expressed in the cell tumor, 64 (52%) over-expressed and 59 (48%) under-expressed were observed. Among the microRNAs over-expressed, we focused on miR-196a; at present this microRNA is poorly studied in CC. The expression of this microRNA was evaluated by qRT-PCR, and HOXC8 by immunohistochemistry assay. There is not a specific microRNA expression profile in the CC cells, neither a microRNA related to HPV presence. Furthermore, the miR-196a was over-expressed, while an absence of HOXC8 expression was observed. We suggest that miR-196a could be played as oncomiR in CC.
PMCID: PMC4014219  PMID: 24817935
Cervical cancer; microRNAs; miR-196a; HOXC8
13.  MicroRNA expression profile in head and neck cancer: HOX-cluster embedded microRNA-196a and microRNA-10b dysregulation implicated in cell proliferation 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:533.
Current evidence implicates aberrant microRNA expression patterns in human malignancies; measurement of microRNA expression may have diagnostic and prognostic applications. Roles for microRNAs in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) are largely unknown. HNSCC, a smoking-related cancer, is one of the most common malignancies worldwide but reliable diagnostic and prognostic markers have not been discovered so far. Some studies have evaluated the potential use of microRNA as biomarkers with clinical application in HNSCC.
MicroRNA expression profile of oral squamous cell carcinoma samples was determined by means of DNA microarrays. We also performed gain-of-function assays for two differentially expressed microRNA using two squamous cell carcinoma cell lines and normal oral keratinocytes. The effect of the over-expression of these molecules was evaluated by means of global gene expression profiling and cell proliferation assessment.
Altered microRNA expression was detected for a total of 72 microRNAs. Among these we found well studied molecules, such as the miR-17-92 cluster, comprising potent oncogenic microRNA, and miR-34, recently found to interact with p53. HOX-cluster embedded miR-196a/b and miR-10b were up- and down-regulated, respectively, in tumor samples. Since validated HOX gene targets for these microRNAs are not consistently deregulated in HNSCC, we performed gain-of-function experiments, in an attempt to outline their possible role. Our results suggest that both molecules interfere in cell proliferation through distinct processes, possibly targeting a small set of genes involved in cell cycle progression.
Functional data on miRNAs in HNSCC is still scarce. Our data corroborate current literature and brings new insights into the role of microRNAs in HNSCC. We also show that miR-196a and miR-10b, not previously associated with HNSCC, may play an oncogenic role in this disease through the deregulation of cell proliferation. The study of microRNA alterations in HNSCC is an essential step to the mechanistic understanding of tumor formation and could lead to the discovery of clinically relevant biomarkers.
PMCID: PMC3826519  PMID: 24209638
14.  Measures of Association for Identifying MicroRNA-mRNA Pairs of Biological Interest 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e29612.
MicroRNAs are a class of small non-protein coding RNAs that play an important role in the regulation of gene expression. Most studies on the identification of microRNA-mRNA pairs utilize the correlation coefficient as a measure of association. The use of correlation coefficient is appropriate if the expression data are available for several conditions and, for a given condition, both microRNA and mRNA expression profiles are obtained from the same set of individuals. However, there are many instances where one of the requirements is not satisfied. Therefore, there is a need for new measures of association to identify the microRNA-mRNA pairs of interest and we present two such measures. The first measure requires expression data for multiple conditions but, for a given condition, the microRNA and mRNA expression may be obtained from different individuals. The new measure, unlike the correlation coefficient, is suitable for analyzing large data sets which are obtained by combining several independent studies on microRNAs and mRNAs. Our second measure is able to handle expression data that correspond to just two conditions but, for a given condition, the microRNA and mRNA expression must be obtained from the same set of individuals. This measure, unlike the correlation coefficient, is appropriate for analyzing data sets with a small number of conditions. We apply our new measures of association to multiple myeloma data sets, which cannot be analyzed using the correlation coefficient, and identify several microRNA-mRNA pairs involved in apoptosis and cell proliferation.
PMCID: PMC3256172  PMID: 22253745
15.  MicroRNA expression profiles in human cancer cells after ionizing radiation 
MicroRNAs are regulators of central cellular processes and are implicated in the pathogenesis and prognosis of human cancers. MicroRNAs also modulate responses to anti-cancer therapy. In the context of radiation oncology microRNAs were found to modulate cell death and proliferation after irradiation. However, changes in microRNA expression profiles in response to irradiation have not been comprehensively analyzed so far. The present study's intend is to present a broad screen of changes in microRNA expression following irradiation of different malignant cell lines.
Materials and methods
1100 microRNAs (Sanger miRBase release version 14.0) were analyzed in six malignant cell lines following irradiation with clinically relevant doses of 2.0 Gy. MicroRNA levels 6 hours after irradiation were compared to microRNA levels in non-irradiated cells using the "Geniom Biochip MPEA homo sapiens".
Hierarchical clustering analysis revealed a pattern, which significantly (p = 0.014) discerned irradiated from non-irradiated cells. The expression levels of a number of microRNAs known to be involved in the regulation of cellular processes like apoptosis, proliferation, invasion, local immune response and radioresistance (e. g. miR-1285, miR-24-1, miR-151-5p, let-7i) displayed 2 - 3-fold changes after irradiation. Moreover, several microRNAs previously not known to be radiation-responsive were discovered.
Ionizing radiation induced significant changes in microRNA expression profiles in 3 glioma and 3 squamous cell carcinoma cell lines. The functional relevance of these changes is not addressed but should by analyzed by future work especially focusing on clinically relevant endpoints like radiation induced cell death, proliferation, migration and metastasis.
PMCID: PMC3079656  PMID: 21453501
16.  Down-regulation of the microRNA-99 family members in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma 
Oral oncology  2012;48(8):686-691.
MicroRNA deregulation is a critical event in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Several microRNA profiling studies aimed at deciphering the microRNA signatures of HNSCC have been reported, but there tends to be poor agreement among studies. The objective of this study was to survey the published microRNA profiling studies on HNSCC, and to assess the commonly deregulated microRNAs in an independent sample set.
Materials and Methods
Meta-analysis of 13 published microRNA profiling studies was performed to define microRNA signatures in HNSCC. Selected microRNAs (including members of miR-99 family) were evaluated in an independent set of HNSCC cases. The potential contributions of miR-99 family to the tumorigenesis of HNSCC were assessed by in vitro assays.
We identified 67 commonly deregulated microRNAs. The up-regulation of miR-21, miR-155, miR-130b, miR-223 and miR-31, and the down-regulation of miR-100, miR-99a and miR-375 were further validated in an independent set of HNSCC cases with quantitative RT-PCR. Among these validated microRNAs, miR-100 and miR-99a belong to the miR-99 family. Our in vitro study demonstrated that restoration of miR-100 to the HNSCC cell lines suppressed cell proliferation and migration, and enhanced apoptosis. Furthermore, ectopic transfection of miR-99 family members down-regulated the expression of insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R) and mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) genes.
In summary, we described a panel of frequently deregulated microRNAs in HNSCC, including members of miR-99 family. The deregulation of miR-99 family contributes to the tumorigenesis of HNSCC, in part by targeting IGF1R and mTOR signaling pathways.
PMCID: PMC3380146  PMID: 22425712
meta-analysis; HNSCC; microRNA profiling; miR-99 family; miR-100; IGF1R; mTOR; tumor suppressor
17.  Synergistic Inhibitory Effect of Hyperbaric Oxygen Combined with Sorafenib on Hepatoma Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e100814.
Hypoxia is a common phenomenon in solid tumors, associated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy resistance, recurrence and metastasis. Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy can increase tissue oxygen pressure and content to prevent the resistance, recurrence and metastasis of cancer. Presently, Sorafenib is a first-line drug, targeted for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) but effective in only a small portion of patients and can induce hypoxia. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of HBO in combination with sorafenib on hepatoma cells.
Hepatoma cell lines (BEL-7402 and SK-Hep1) were treated with HBO at 2 atmosphere absolute pressure for 80 min per day or combined with sorafenib or cisplatin. At different time points, cells were tested for cell growth, colony formation, apoptosis, cell cycle and migration. Finally, miRNA from the hepatoma cells was detected by microRNA array and validated by qRT-PCR.
Although HBO, sorafenib or cisplatin alone could inhibit growth of hepatoma cells, HBO combined with sorafenib or cisplatin resulted in much greater synergistic growth inhibition (cell proliferation and colony formation) in hepatoma cells. Similarly, the synergistic effect of HBO and sorafenib on induction of apoptosis was also observed in hepatoma cells. HBO induced G1 arrest in SK-Hep1 not in BEL-7402 cells, but enhanced cell cycle arrest induced by sorafenib in BEL-7402 treated cells. However, HBO had no obvious effect on the migration of hepatoma cells, and microRNA array analysis showed that hepatoma cells with HBO treatment had significantly different microRNA expression profiles from those with blank control.
We show for the first time that HBO combined with sorafenib results in synergistic growth inhibition and apoptosis in hepatoma cells, suggesting a potential application of HBO combined with sorafenib in HCC patients. Additionally, we also show that HBO significantly altered microRNA expression in hepatoma cells.
PMCID: PMC4067386  PMID: 24956259
18.  Differential Stability of Cell-Free Circulating microRNAs: Implications for Their Utilization as Biomarkers 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75184.
MicroRNAs circulating in the blood, stabilized by complexation with proteins and/or additionally by encapsulation in lipid vesicles, are currently being evaluated as biomarkers. The consequences of their differential association with lipids/vesicles for their stability and use as biomarkers are largely unexplored and are subject of the present study.
The levels of a set of selected microRNAs were determined by quantitative reverse-transcription PCR after extraction from sera or vesicle- and non-vesicle fractions prepared from sera. The stability of these microRNAs after incubation with RNase A or RNase inhibitor, an inhibitor of RNase A family enzymes was studied.
The levels of microRNA-1 and microRNA-122, but not those of microRNA-16, microRNA-21 and microRNA-142-3p, declined significantly during a 5-h incubation of the sera. RNase inhibitor prevented the loss of microRNAs in serum as well as the degradation of microRNA-122, a microRNA not expressed in blood cells, in whole blood. Stabilization of microRNA-122 was also achieved by hemolysis. Prolonged incubation of the sera led to enrichment of vesicle-associated relative to non-vesicle-associated microRNAs. Vesicle-associated microRNAs were more resistant to RNase A treatment than the respective microRNAs not associated with vesicles.
Serum microRNAs showed differential stability upon prolonged incubation. RNase inhibitor might be useful to robustly preserve the pattern of cell-free circulating microRNAs. In the case of microRNAs not expressed in blood cells this can also be achieved by hemolysis. Vesicle-associated microRNAs appeared to be more stable than those not associated with vesicles, which might be useful to disclose additional biomarker properties of miRNAs.
PMCID: PMC3779196  PMID: 24073250
19.  Micro-RNA expression in cisplatin resistant germ cell tumor cell lines 
Molecular Cancer  2011;10:52.
We compared microRNA expression patterns in three cisplatin resistant sublines derived from paternal cisplatin sensitive germ cell tumor cell lines in order to improve our understanding of the mechanisms of cisplatin resistance.
Three cisplatin resistant sublines (NTERA-2-R, NCCIT-R, 2102EP-R) showing 2.7-11.3-fold increase in drug resistance after intermittent exposure to increasing doses of cisplatin were compared to their parental counterparts, three well established relatively cisplatin sensitive germ cell tumor cell lines (NTERA-2, NCCIT, 2102EP). Cells were cultured and total RNA was isolated from all 6 cell lines in three independent experiments. RNA was converted into cDNA and quantitative RT-PCR was run using 384 well low density arrays covering almost all (738) known microRNA species of human origin.
Altogether 72 of 738 (9.8%) microRNAs appeared differentially expressed between sensitive and resistant cell line pairs (NTERA-2R/NTERA-2 = 43, NCCIT-R/NCCIT = 53, 2102EP-R/2102EP = 15) of which 46.7-95.3% were up-regulated (NTERA-2R/NTERA-2 = 95.3%, NCCIT-R/NCCIT = 62.3%, 2102EP-R/2102EP = 46.7%). The number of genes showing differential expression in more than one of the cell line pairs was 34 between NTERA-2R/NTERA-2 (79%) and NCCIT-R/NCCIT (64%), and 3 and 4, respectively, between these two cell lines and 2102EP-R/2102EP (about 27%). Only the has-miR-10b involved in breast cancer invasion and metastasis and has-miR-512-3p appeared to be up-regulated (2-3-fold) in all three cell lines. The hsa-miR-371-373 cluster (counteracting cellular senescence and linked with differentiation potency), as well as hsa-miR-520c/-520h (inhibiting the tumor suppressor p21) were 3.9-16.3 fold up-regulated in two of the three cisplatin resistant cell lines. Several new micro-RNA species missing an annotation towards cisplatin resistance could be identified. These were hsa-miR-512-3p/-515/-517/-518/-525 (up to 8.1-fold up-regulated) and hsa-miR-99a/-100/-145 (up to 10-fold down-regulated).
Examining almost all known human micro-RNA species confirmed the miR-371-373 cluster as a promising target for explaining cisplatin resistance, potentially by counteracting wild-type P53 induced senescence or linking it with the potency to differentiate. Moreover, we describe for the first time an association of the up-regulation of micro-RNA species such as hsa-miR-512-3p/-515/-517/-518/-525 and down-regulation of hsa-miR-99a/-100/-145 with a cisplatin resistant phenotype in human germ cell tumors. Further functional analyses are warranted to gain insight into their role in drug resistance.
PMCID: PMC3120796  PMID: 21575166
germ cell tumor cell line; cisplatin resistance; microRNA; gene expression
20.  MicroRNA-126 Inhibits Tumor Cell Growth and Its Expression Level Correlates with Poor Survival in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42978.
It is controversial whether microRNA-126 is a tumor suppressive or oncogenic miRNA. More experiments are needed to determine whether microRNA-126 is associated with non-small cell lung cancer risk and prognosis.
Over-expression of microRNA-126 was performed to evaluate the cell invasion and tumor growth in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines and nude mouse xenograft model. Gain-of-function experiments and luciferase assays were performed to reveal the relationship between microRNA-126 and PI3K-Akt signal pathway in A549 cells. We analyzed the associations of the microRNA-126 expression between genetic variants within microRNA-126 and clinical information including smoking status, sex, age, and histological type and the tumor stage.
Over-expression of microRNA-126 in NSCLC cell lines decreased cell proliferation in vitro and tumor growth in the nude mouse xenograft model. And microRNA-126 repressed the activity of PI3K-Akt pathway by targeting binding sites in the 3′-untranslated region of PI3KR2 mRNA. The expression level of microRNA-126 was decreased in NSCLC lines and tumor tissues. The patients with low microRNA-126 expression had significantly poorer survival time than those with high microRNA-126 expression (means for survival time (month): 24.392±1.055 vs. 29.282±1.140, P = 0.005). However, there was no significant difference in the genotype and allele frequencies of the microRNA-126 variant (G>A, rs4636297) between cases and controls (P = 0.366). In addition, there was no association between SNP rs4636297 and survival time in NSCLC patients (P = 0.992). And microRNA-126 expression had no significant difference among the three genotype groups (P = 0.972).
Our data indicate that microRNA-126 is a tumor-suppressor gene in NSCLC and low microRNA-126 expression is a unfavorable prognostic factor in NSCLC patients. However, the regulatory mechanism of microRNA-126 remains to be elucidated in different normal and malignant tissues. Therefore, further research is needed to explore the tumor suppressive functions of microRNA-126 in NSCLC.
PMCID: PMC3416793  PMID: 22900072
21.  MicroRNA-7 Inhibits Multiple Oncogenic Pathways to Suppress HER2Δ16 Mediated Breast Tumorigenesis and Reverse Trastuzumab Resistance 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e114419.
The oncogenic isoform of HER2, HER2Δ16, is expressed with HER2 in nearly 50% of HER2 positive breast tumors where HER2Δ16 drives metastasis and resistance to multiple therapeutic interventions including tamoxifen and trastuzumab. In recent years microRNAs have been shown to influence multiple aspects of tumorigenesis and tumor cell response to therapy. Accordingly, the HER2Δ16 oncogene alters microRNA expression to promote endocrine resistance. With the goal of identifying microRNA suppressors of HER2Δ16 oncogenic activity we investigated the contribution of altered microRNA expression to HER2Δ16 mediated tumorigenesis and trastuzumab resistance. Using a gene array strategy comparing microRNA expression profiles of MCF-7 to MCF-7/HER2Δ16 cells, we found that expression of HER2Δ16 significantly altered expression of 16 microRNAs by 2-fold or more including a 4.8 fold suppression of the miR-7 tumor suppressor. Reestablished expression of miR-7 in the MCF-7/HER2Δ16 cell line caused a G1 cell cycle arrest and reduced both colony formation and cell migration activity to levels of parental MCF-7 cells. Suppression of miR-7 in the MCF-7 cell line resulted in enhanced colony formation activity but not cell migration, indicating that miR-7 suppression is sufficient to drive tumor cell proliferation but not migration. MiR-7 inhibited MCF-7/HER2Δ16 cell migration through a mechanism involving suppression of the miR-7 target gene EGFR. In contrast, miR-7 inhibition of MCF-7/HER2Δ16 cell proliferation involved a pathway where miR-7 expression resulted in the inactivation of Src kinase independent of suppressed EGFR expression. Also independent of EGFR suppression, reestablished miR-7 expression sensitized refractory MCF-7/HER2Δ16 cells to trastuzumab. Our results demonstrate that reestablished miR-7 expression abolishes HER2Δ16 induced cell proliferation and migration while sensitizing HER2Δ16 expressing cells to trastuzumab therapy. We propose that miR-7 regulated pathways, including EGFR and Src kinase, represent targets for the therapeutic intervention of refractory and metastatic HER2Δ16 driven breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC4273950  PMID: 25532106
22.  Integrated analysis of microRNA and mRNA expression and association with HIF binding reveals the complexity of microRNA expression regulation under hypoxia 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:28.
In mammalians, HIF is a master regulator of hypoxia gene expression through direct binding to DNA, while its role in microRNA expression regulation, critical in the hypoxia response, is not elucidated genome wide. Our aim is to investigate in depth the regulation of microRNA expression by hypoxia in the breast cancer cell line MCF-7, establish the relationship between microRNA expression and HIF binding sites, pri-miRNA transcription and microRNA processing gene expression.
MCF-7 cells were incubated at 1% Oxygen for 16, 32 and 48 h. SiRNA against HIF-1α and HIF-2α were performed as previously published. MicroRNA and mRNA expression were assessed using microRNA microarrays, small RNA sequencing, gene expression microarrays and Real time PCR. The Kraken pipeline was applied for microRNA-seq analysis along with Bioconductor packages. Microarray data was analysed using Limma (Bioconductor), ChIP-seq data were analysed using Gene Set Enrichment Analysis and multiple testing correction applied in all analyses.
Hypoxia time course microRNA sequencing data analysis identified 41 microRNAs significantly up- and 28 down-regulated, including hsa-miR-4521, hsa-miR-145-3p and hsa-miR-222-5p reported in conjunction with hypoxia for the first time. Integration of HIF-1α and HIF-2α ChIP-seq data with expression data showed overall association between binding sites and microRNA up-regulation, with hsa-miR-210-3p and microRNAs of miR-27a/23a/24-2 and miR-30b/30d clusters as predominant examples. Moreover the expression of hsa-miR-27a-3p and hsa-miR-24-3p was found positively associated to a hypoxia gene signature in breast cancer. Gene expression analysis showed no full coordination between pri-miRNA and microRNA expression, pointing towards additional levels of regulation. Several transcripts involved in microRNA processing were found regulated by hypoxia, of which DICER (down-regulated) and AGO4 (up-regulated) were HIF dependent. DICER expression was found inversely correlated to hypoxia in breast cancer.
Integrated analysis of microRNA, mRNA and ChIP-seq data in a model cell line supports the hypothesis that microRNA expression under hypoxia is regulated at transcriptional and post-transcriptional level, with the presence of HIF binding sites at microRNA genomic loci associated with up-regulation. The identification of hypoxia and HIF regulated microRNAs relevant for breast cancer is important for our understanding of disease development and design of therapeutic interventions.
PMCID: PMC3928101  PMID: 24517586
MicroRNA; Hypoxia; HIF; Transcription factor; Gene regulation
23.  microRNA machinery is an integral component of drug-induced transcription inhibition in HIV-1 infection 
RNA interference plays a significant role in manipulating cellular and viral mechanisms to maintain latency during HIV-1 infection. HIV-1 produces several microRNAs including one from the TAR element which alter the host's response to infection. Since cyclin/cdk complexes are important for viral transcription, these studies focus on the possible cdk inhibitors that inhibit viral transcription, without affecting normal cellular mechanisms. Roscovitine and Flavopiridol are well-studied cdk inhibitors that are effective at suppressing their target cdks at a low IC50. These cdk inhibitors and possibly future generations of drugs are affected by microRNA mechanisms. From our studies, we developed a third generation derivative called CR8#13. In cells that lack Dicer there was a higher level of basal viral LTR-reporter transcription. When drugs, specifically Flavopiridol and CR8#13 were added, the transcriptional inhibition of the LTR was less potent in cells that lacked Dicer. Also, after transfection with HIV-1 clone (pNL4.3), CR8 and CR8#13 derivatives were shown to be more effective viral transcription inhibitors in cell lines that contained Dicer (T-cells) as compared to Dicer deficient lines (monocytes). We next asked whether the addition of CR8 or CR8#13 could possibly increase levels of TAR microRNA in HIV-1 LTR containing cells. We demonstrate that the 3'TAR microRNA is produced in higher amounts after drug treatment, resulting in microRNA recruitment to the LTR. MicroRNA recruitment results in chromatin alteration, changes in Pol II phosphorylation and viral transcription inhibition. In conclusion, our results indicate that viral microRNA, specifically the TAR microRNA produced from the HIV-1 LTR is responsible for maintaining latent infections by manipulating host cell mechanisms to limit transcription from the viral LTR promoter. With the microRNA machinery present, cdk inhibitors are able to significantly increase the amount of TAR microRNA, leading to downregulation of viral LTR transcription.
PMCID: PMC2902143  PMID: 20628499
microRNA; HIV-1; TAR; cdk inhibitor; ATP analogs; Tat transactivation
24.  Evaluation of microRNA expression profiles and their associations with risk alleles in lymphoblastoid cell lines of familial ovarian cancer 
Carcinogenesis  2012;33(3):604-612.
Interindividual variations of microRNA expression are likely to influence the expression of microRNA target genes and, therefore, contribute to phenotypic differences in humans, including cancer susceptibility. Whether microRNA expression variation has any role in ovarian cancer development is still unknown. Here, we evaluated microRNA expression profiles in lymphoblastoid cell lines from 74 women with familial ovarian cancer and 47 unrelated controls matched on gender and race. We found that the cases and unrelated controls can be clustered using 95 differentially expressed microRNAs with 91% accuracy. To assess the potential implications of microRNAs in ovarian cancer, we investigated the associations between microRNA expression and seven ovarian cancer risk variants discovered from genome-wide association studies (GWAS), namely, rs3814113 on 9p22.2, rs2072590 on 2q31, rs2665390 on 3q25, rs10088218, rs1516982, rs10098821 on 8q24.21 and rs2363956 on 19p13. We observed 130 significant associations at a permutation level of 0.01. Compared with other risk variants, rs3814113 and rs2072590 had the greatest number of significant associations (68 and 37, respectively). Interestingly, 14 microRNAs that were associated with ovarian cancer risk alleles belong to five microRNA clusters. The most notable cluster is the tumorigenic miR-17-92 cluster with five microRNAs, all of which are significantly associated with rs3814113. Using pathway analysis, several key biological pathways were significantly overrepresented, such as cellular response to stress (P = 2.87 × 10−06), etc. Further characterization of significant associations between microRNAs and risk alleles could facilitate the understanding of the functions of these GWAS discovered risk alleles in the genetic etiology of ovarian cancer.
PMCID: PMC3291866  PMID: 22235027
25.  MicroRNA profiling of tacrolimus-stimulated Jurkat human T lympocytes 
This study investigated the Jurkat T cell line expresses cytotoxicity when treated with different concentrations of FK506, and analyzed the expression pattern of microRNA when stimulated by FK506 using the microRNAs microarray, as well as the expression pattern of a gene that is related to the differentiation, activation and proliferation of T cells after being affected by the change of microRNAs.
To investigate the effects of FK506 on microRNA expression, we purified total RNA of Jurkat cells treated with 20 µM FK506 for 72 hours and used to analyze microRNA profiling by using Agilent's chip.
These results demonstrated that treatment with FK506 markedly induced the down-regulation of 20 microRNAs as well as the up-regulation of 20 microRNAs in a time-dependent manner. The genes that down-regulated by FK506 include let-7a*, miR-20a*, and miR-487a. Otherwise miR-202, miR-485-5p, and miR-518c* are gradually up-regulated in expression. Sanger Institute and DAVIDs bioinformatics indicated that microRNAs regulated the several transcriptomes including nuclear factor of activated T cell-related, T cell receptor/interleukin-2 signaling, and Ca2+-calmodulin-dependent phosphatase calcineurin pathways.
As a result of treating FK506 to a Jurkat cell line and running the microRNA microarray, it was found that FK506 not only took part in the suppression of T cell proliferation/activation by inhibiting calcineurin in Jurkat apoptosis, but also affected the microRNAs that are involved in the regulation of various signal transduction pathways.
PMCID: PMC3791358  PMID: 24106682
Tacrolimus; MicroRNAs; Jurkat T lymphocyte

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