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1.  MicroRNA analysis of microdissected normal squamous esophageal epithelium and tumor cells 
Previous studies have identified several dysregulated microRNAs in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC); however, to date there are no ex vivo analyses comparing expression levels of these regulatory molecules in esophageal squamous cell tumors versus patient-matched normal epithelium. We describe here a technical strategy to evaluate microRNAs in normal esophageal basal cells (NB), normal esophageal differentiated cells (ND), and tumor cells (T). Laser capture microdissection was used to procure target populations from five cases and 18 ESCC-associated microRNAs were measured by RT-qPCR. Five microRNAs (miR-25, miR-106b, miR-21, miR-203, and miR-145) demonstrated consistent differential expression in at least one of the three comparisons: T vs. NB, T vs. ND, or NB vs. ND. The potential regulatory role of the microRNAs in ESCC was further evaluated by correlating their expression with a matched mRNA dataset, which included the same five cases and cell populations. In conclusion, the present work demonstrates the feasibility of studying microRNA levels in precisely dissected cell populations from clinical samples, and sheds light on the molecular mechanisms associated with ESCC.
PMCID: PMC3142940  PMID: 21796275
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; laser capture microdissection; microRNA; basal layer; differentiated layer; miR-25; miR-106b; miR-21; miR-203; miR-145
2.  The Cluster of miR-143 and miR-145 Affects the Risk for Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma through Co-Regulating Fascin Homolog 1 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33987.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs), 18–24 nt non-coding RNAs, are thought to play important roles in cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, and development. Recent studies suggest that some of the known microRNAs map to a single genomic locale within a single polycistronic transcript. But the roles of the cluster remain to be known. In order to understand the role and mechanism of a cluster of miR-143 and miR-145 in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), the association of mature miR-143 and miR-145 expression with the risk for esophageal cancer was evaluated in ESCC patients with a case-control study, and target protein regulated by mature miRNA was analyzed in ESCC cell lines with 3′UTR luciferase reporter assay. The expression levels of miR-143 and miR-145 were determined in 110 pairs of esophageal cancer tissues and adjacent normal tissues using real-time reverse transcription PCR. The relative expression of miR-143 and miR-145 were statistically different between cancer tissues and matched controls. The combined expression of miR-143 and miR-145 was significantly associated with the risk for esophageal cancer. Meanwhile, the reduced expression of two miRNAs in tumor patient was supposed to have a trend of lymph node metastases. The co-expression pattern of miR-143 and miR-145 was analyzed with Pearson correlation. It showed a significant correlation between these two miRNAs expression both in tissues and tumor cell lines. 3′UTR luciferase reporter assay indicated that Fascin Homolog 1 (FSCN1) could be co-regulated by miR-143 and miR-145. The protein level of FSCN1 showed no significant linear correlation with miR-143 and miR-145 expression in ESCC cell lines with Western blotting analysis. In conclusion, since miR-143 and miR-145 could regulate oncogenic FSCN1 and take part in the modulation of metastases, the result suggested the combination variable of miR-143 and miR-145 as a potential biomarker for earlier diagnosis and prognosis of esophageal cancer.
PMCID: PMC3311581  PMID: 22457808
3.  Dysregulation of miR-31 and miR-21 induced by zinc deficiency promotes esophageal cancer 
Carcinogenesis  2012;33(9):1736-1744.
Zinc deficiency (ZD) increases the risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). In a rat model, chronic ZD induces an inflammatory gene signature that fuels ESCC development. microRNAs regulate gene expression and are aberrantly expressed in cancers. Here we investigated whether chronic ZD (23 weeks) also induces a protumorigenic microRNA signature. Using the nanoString technology, we evaluated microRNA profiles in ZD esophagus and six additional tissues (skin, lung, pancreas, liver, prostate and peripheral blood mononuclear cells [PBMC]). ZD caused overexpression of inflammation genes and altered microRNA expression across all tissues analyzed, predictive of disease development. Importantly, the inflammatory ZD esophagus had a distinct microRNA signature resembling human ESCC or tongue SCC miRNAomes with miR-31 and miR-21 as the top-up-regulated species. Circulating miR-31 was also the top-up-regulated species in PBMCs. In ZD esophagus and tongue, oncogenic miR-31 and miR-21 overexpression was accompanied by down-regulation of their respective tumor-suppressor targets PPP2R2A and PDCD4. Importantly, esophageal miR-31 and miR-21 levels were directly associated with the appearance of ESCC in ZD rats, as compared with their cancer-free Zn-sufficient or Zn-replenished counterparts. In situ hybridization analysis in rat and human tongue SCCs localized miR-31 to tumor cells and miR-21 to stromal cells. In regressing tongue SCCs from Zn-supplemented rats, miR-31 and miR-21 expression was concomitantly reduced, establishing their responsiveness to Zn therapy. A search for putative microRNA targets revealed a bias toward genes in inflammatory pathways. Our finding that ZD causes miR-31 and miR-21 dysregulation associated with inflammation provides insight into mechanisms whereby ZD promotes ESCC.
PMCID: PMC3514898  PMID: 22689922
4.  Down-regulation of microRNA 10a expression in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma cells 
Oncology Letters  2010;1(3):527-531.
This study identified significantly down-regulated microRNAs (miRs) specific for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) cells. Total RNA was extracted from ESCC cell lines (OE21 and TE10) and a non-malignant human esophageal squamous cell line (Het1A), and subjected to microarray analysis. Expression levels of miRs that showed significant down-regulation in ESCC cells compared to Het1A cells based on the comprehensive analysis were analyzed by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. Among the significantly down-regulated miRs, miR-10a expression levels in the five ESCC cell lines examined were significantly lower than in Het1A and the esophageal adenocarcinoma cells. Since miR-10a is a specific miR in ESCC, its clinical relevance was examined. Using ESCC tumor samples and non-cancerous tissue obtained endoscopically, the involvement of miR-10a in the clinicopathological findings was examined. MiR-10a expression was comparably down-regulated in the tumors of high-grade intraepithelial neoplasm and non-invasive ESCC, while the expression levels were elevated in the invasive ESCC tumors. Treatment with a demethylating agent, 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine, restored miR-10a expression in OE21 cells. Only a modest additive or synergistic effect was observed in the presence of a histone deacetylase inhibitor, trichostatin A. These results imply that miR-10a may be differentially expressed in ESCC cells and may be involved in ESCC development and progression. The unique epigenetic regulation of miR-10a expression can be mediated via hypermethylation of the CpG islands proximal to its gene locus, at least in certain ESCC cells.
PMCID: PMC3436400  PMID: 22966337
microRNA; microRNA 10a; esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; DNA methylation
5.  MiRNA-205 modulates cellular invasion and migration via regulating zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 2 expression in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma cells 
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is often diagnosed at later stages until they are incurable. MicroRNA (miR) is a small, non-coding RNA that negatively regulates gene expression mainly via translational repression. Accumulating evidence indicates that deregulation of miR is associated with human malignancies including ESCC. The aim of this study was to identify miR that could be specifically expressed and exert distinct biological actions in ESCC.
Total RNA was extracted from ESCC cell lines, OE21 and TE10, and a non-malignant human esophageal squamous cell line, Het-1A, and subjected to microarray analysis. Expression levels of miR that showed significant differences between the 2 ESCC and Het-1A cells based on the comprehensive analysis were analyzed by the quantitative reverse transcriptase (RT)-PCR method. Then, functional analyses, including cellular proliferation, apoptosis and Matrigel invasion and the wound healing assay, for the specific miR were conducted. Using ESCC tumor samples and paired surrounding non-cancerous tissue obtained endoscopically, the association with histopathological differentiation was examined with quantitative RT-PCR.
Based on the miR microarray analysis, there were 14 miRs that showed significant differences (more than 2-fold) in expression between the 2 ESCC cells and non-malignant Het-1A. Among the significantly altered miRs, miR-205 expression levels were exclusively higher in 5 ESCC cell lines examined than any other types of malignant cell lines and Het-1A. Thus, miR-205 could be a specific miR in ESCC. Modulation of miR-205 expression by transfection with its precursor or anti-miR-205 inhibitor did not affect ESCC cell proliferation and apoptosis, but miR-205 was found to be involved in cell invasion and migration. Western blot revealed that knockdown of miR-205 expression in ESCC cells substantially enhanced expression of zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 2, accompanied by reduction of E-cadherin, a regulator of epithelial mesenchymal transition. The miR-205 expression levels were not associated with histological differentiation of human ESCC.
These results imply that miR-205 is an ESCC-specific miR that exerts tumor-suppressive activities with EMT inhibition by targeting ZEB2.
PMCID: PMC3076245  PMID: 21426561
6.  miR-22 is down-regulated in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and inhibits cell migration and invasion 
Cancer Cell International  2014;14(1):138.
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is one of the most common and deadly forms of cancer. Despite advances in the diagnosis and treatment of this cancer, the survival rate at five years is poor. Lately, miR-22 is identified as a tumor-suppressing microRNA in many human cancers. However, the specific function of miR-22 in ESCC is unclear at this point.
We first measured miR-22 expression level in 30 paired of ESCC and matched normal tissues, ESCC cell lines by real-time quantitative RT-PCR. Invasion assay, MTT proliferation assay and wound-healing assay were performed to test the invasion and proliferation of ESCC cell after overexpression of miR-22.
We found that the expression of miR-22 in ESCC tissues and cell lines were much lower than that in normal control, respectively. The expression of miR-22 was inversely correlated with ESCC metastatic ability. Furthermore, transfection of miR-22 expression plasmid could significantly inhibit the cell proliferation, migration and invasion in Eca109 and Kyse410 ESCC cell lines.
Our findings suggest that miR-22 act as tumor suppressor and inhibiting ESCC cell migration and invasion. The findings of this study contribute to the current understanding of the functions of miR-22 in ESCC.
PMCID: PMC4267162  PMID: 25516722
miR-22; Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; Invasion; Migration
7.  Pri-miR-124 rs531564 and pri-miR-34b/c rs4938723 Polymorphisms Are Associated with Decreased Risk of Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Chinese Populations 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e100055.
MicroRNAs are a new class of small non-protein-coding RNAs that sometimes function as tumor suppressors or oncogenes. Aberrant expression and structural alteration of microRNAs have been reported to be involved in tumorigenesis and cancer development. Recently, rs531564/pri-miR-124-1, rs4938723/pri-miR-34b/c, rs7372209/pri-miR-26a-1, rs895819/pre-miR-27a, and rs11134527/pri-miR-218 were reported to be associated with risks of various cancers. In order to evaluate the relationship of these SNPs and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) risk, we conducted a case-control study with 1109 ESCC patients and 1275 control subjects to examine the potential association of these pri/pre-miRNA polymorphisms with ESCC susceptibility. As a result, two SNPs were associated with a significant risk of ESCC. We found that the GG genotype of pri-miR-124-1 rs531564 was associated to a significantly decreased risk of ESCC comparing with the CC/CG genotypes (p = 0.005; OR = 0.61, 95% CI = 0.43–0.86). In addition, the CC genotype of pri-miR-34b/c rs4938723 was associated with a significant decreased risk of ESCC (CC VS. TT/TC: p = 0.007, OR = 0.82, 95% CI = 0.71–0.95) in Chinese population. The present study provides the first evidence that pri-miR-124-1 rs531564 and pri-miR-34 rs4938723 were associated with the risk of ESCC in Chinese population.
PMCID: PMC4063769  PMID: 24945256
8.  Up-regulation of miR-335 predicts a favorable prognosis in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Introduction: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are noncoding RNAs that regulate multiple cellular processes during cancer progression. MiR-335 has recently been identified to be involved in tumorigenesis of several cancers such as ovarian cancer and gastric cancer. However, the regulation of miR-335 in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) has not been reported yet. Methods: Expression of miR-335 in tumor and their normal matched tissues was determined by quantitative real-time PCR in 67 ESCC patients and its association with overall survival of patients was analyzed by statistical analysis. Results: The expression level of miR-335 was reduced in malignant tissue samples in comparison to normal matched tissue (P < 0.05). It was also proved that miR-335 expression was associated with ESCC histological grade, lymph node metastasis, tumor stage and clinical stage (P < 0.05). In addition, the Kaplan-Meier survival curves revealed that low miR-335 expression was associated with poor prognosis in ESCC patients. Multivariate analysis showed that miR-335 expression was an independent prognostic marker of overall survival of ESCC patients. Conclusions: The study proves for the first time that miR-335 is down regulated in a majority of ESCC patients. Our results indicate that miR-335 expression is an independent prognostic factor for patients with esophageal cancer, which might be a potential valuable biomarker for ESCC.
PMCID: PMC4203243  PMID: 25337272
miR-335; esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; quantitative real-time PCR; prognosis
9.  Comprehensive microRNA Profiling of Prostate Cancer 
Journal of Cancer  2013;4(5):350-357.
MicroRNAs are small non-coding RNA molecules that have been shown to regulate the expression of genes linked to cancer. The relevance of microRNAs in the development, progression and prognosis of prostate cancer is not fully understood. It is also possible that these specific molecules may assist in the recognition of aggressive tumors and the development of new molecular targets. Our study investigated the importance of several microRNAs in cases of prostate cancer from 37 patients that were manually microdissected to obtain pure populations of tumor cells, normal epithelium and adjacent stroma. MicroRNA was extracted for PCR array profiling. Differentially expressed miRNAs for each case were used to compare tumor vs. normal epithelium and tumor-adjacent stroma samples.
Loss of 18 miRNAs (e.g.miR-34c, miR-29b, miR-212 and miR-10b) and upregulation of miR-143 and miR-146b were significantly found in all the tumors in comparison with normal epithelium and/or stroma (p≤ 0.001). A different signature was found in the high grade tumors (Gleason score ≥ 8) when compared with tumors Gleason score 6. Upregulation of miR-122, miR-335, miR-184, miR-193, miR-34, miR-138, miR-373, miR-9, miR-198, miR-144 and miR-215 and downregulation of miR-96, miR-222, miR-148, miR-92, miR-27, miR-125, miR-126, miR-27 were found in the high grade tumors.
MicroRNA profiling in prostate cancer appears to have unique expression patterns in comparison with normal tissue. These differential expressed miRNAs may provide novel diagnostic and prognostic tools that will assist in the recognition of prostate cancers with aggressive behavior.
PMCID: PMC3677622  PMID: 23781281
microRNA; Prostate Cancer; biomarkers.
10.  MicroRNA Expression in Ileal Carcinoid Tumors: Down-regulation of MicroRNA-133a with Tumor Progression 
MicroRNAs are involved in cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis and can function as tumor suppressor genes or oncogenes. The role of microRNAs in neuroendocrine tumors such as ileal carcinoids is largely unknown. We examined the differential expression of 95 microRNAs by RT-PCR using the QuantiMir System in eight matching primary and metastatic carcinoid tumors from the ileum. All microRNAs chosen for the QuantiMir System Array were based on their potential functions related to cancer biology, cell development and apoptosis. The expression of microRNAs for the samples was normalized to microRNA-197, and the matching primary and metastatic tumors were compared. There was down-regulation of microRNA-133a, 145, 146, 222 and 10b in all samples between the primary and matching metastatic tumors and up-regulation of microRNA-183, 488 and 19a + b in six of eight metastatic carcinoids compared to the primary tumors. MicroRNA-133a was further analyzed by TaqMan Real Time RT-PCR and Northern hybridization using six additional matching primary and metastatic samples which supported the PCR Array findings. There were significant differences in microRNA-133a expression with down-regulation in the metastasis compared to the primary in the eight original cases (p<0.009) and in the six additional cases used for validation (p<0.014). Laser capture microdissection and Real Time RT-PCR analysis using normal ileum found microRNA-133a expression in normal enterochromaffin cells. In situ hybridization in normal ileum showed that some of the mucosal endocrine cells expressed microRNA-133a. Both primary and metastatic ileal carcinoid tumors expressed microRNA-133a by in situ hybridization. These results provide information about novel marker microRNAs that may be used as biomarkers and/or therapeutic targets in intestinal carcinoid tumors.
PMCID: PMC2886953  PMID: 20037573
PCR array; carcinoids; enterochromaffin cells; RT-PCR; in situ hybridization
11.  MicroRNA signatures in chemotherapy resistant esophageal cancer cell lines 
World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG  2014;20(40):14904-14912.
AIM: To investigate expression of microRNA (miRNA) and potential targets in chemotherapy resistant esophageal cancer cell lines.
METHODS: An in-vitro model of acquired chemotherapy resistance in esophageal adeno- (EAC) and squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) cells was used, and microRNA expression profiles for cisplatin or 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) resistant variants vs chemotherapy sensitive controls were compared using microarray and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The expression of chemotherapy-relevant genes potentially targeted by the dysregulated microRNAs in the chemotherapy resistant variants was also evaluated.
RESULTS: Chemotherapy resistant sublines were found to have specific miRNA signatures, and these miRNA signatures were different for the cisplatin vs 5-FU resistant cells from the same tumor cell line, and also for EAC vs ESCC cells with resistance to the same specific chemotherapy agent. Amongst others, miR-27b-3p, miR-193b-3p, miR-192-5p, miR-378 a-3p, miR-125a-5p and miR-18a-3p were dysregulated, consistent with negative posttranscriptional control of KRAS, TYMS, ABCC3, CBL-B and ERBB2 expression via these miRNAs.
CONCLUSION: The current study supports the hypothesis that microRNA expression has an impact on chemotherapy resistance in esophageal cancer.
PMCID: PMC4209553  PMID: 25356050
Esophageal cancer; MicroRNA; Chemotherapy; Resistance; Target
12.  Tumor suppression by miR-31 in esophageal carcinoma is p21-dependent 
Genes & Cancer  2014;5(11-12):436-444.
microRNA regulation network is important for the cancer genetic heterogeneity. Relative to the increasing numbers of microRNA's targets identified, upstream regulatory mechanisms that control functional microRNAs are less well-documented. Here, we investigated the function of miR-31, a pleiotropically-acting microRNA, in esophageal squamous cell cancer (ESCC). We demonstrated that miR-31 only exerted tumor-suppressive effects in TE-7 ESCC cells, but not in TE-1 ESCC cells, although both of these cell lines harbor inactive p53. Interestingly, TE-1 cells highly expressed p21, while p21 levels were virtually undetectable in TE-7 cells, suggesting a p21-dependent mechanism of miR-31-mediated tumor suppression. Accordingly, knockdown of p21 in TE-1 cells reversed the tumor suppressive actions of miR-31. In patient ESCC specimens, real-time RT-PCR analysis revealed that expression of E2F2 and STK40, two known miR-31 target oncogenes, was negatively correlated with the expression of miR-31 in a p21-dependent manner, supporting the conclusion that miR-31 only downregulates its target oncogenes when p21 levels are low. Collectively, these data suggest a novel mechanism through which the tumor-suppressive effect of miR-31 is p21-dependent. In addition, we speculate that delivery of miR-31 could provide therapeutic benefit in the personalized management of a subgroup of ESCC patients with p21-deficient tumors.
PMCID: PMC4279440  PMID: 25568668
microRNA; miR-31; p21; esophageal squamous cell cancer; personalized medicine
13.  MicroRNA Expression Profiling in the Histological Subtypes of Barrett's Metaplasia 
The histological definition of Barrett's esophagus (BE) is debated, particularly regarding the phenotype of its metaplastic columnar epithelium. Histologically proven intestinal metaplasia (IM) was the sine qua non condition for a diagnosis of BE but, more recently, non-intestinalized (i.e., cardiac gastric-type; GM) columnar metaplasia has been re-included in the spectrum of Barrett's histology. MicroRNAs modulate cell commitment, and are also reportedly dysregulated in Barrett's carcinogenesis. This study investigates miRNA expression in the histological spectrum of esophageal columnar metaplastic changes, specifically addressing the biological profile of GM vs. IM.
A study was performed to discover microRNA microarray in 30 matching mucosa samples obtained from 10 consecutive BE patients; for each patient, biopsy tissue samples were obtained from squamous, GM and intestinalized epithelium. Microarray findings were further validated by qRT-PCR analysis in another bioptic series of 75 mucosa samples.
MicroRNA profiling consistently disclosed metaplasia-specific microRNA signatures. Six microRNAs were significantly dysregulated across the histological phenotypes considered; five of them (two overexpressed (hsa-miR-192; -miR-215) and three under-expressed (hsa-miR-18a* -miR-203, and -miR-205)) were progressively dysregulated in the phenotypic sequence from squamous to gastric-type, to intestinal-type mucosa samples.
A consistent microRNA expression signature underlies both gastric- and intestinal-type esophageal metaplasia. The pattern of microRNA dysregulation suggests that GM may further progress to IM. The clinico-pathological implications of these molecular profiles prompt further study on the “personalized” cancer risk associated with each of these metaplastic transformations.
PMCID: PMC3671360  PMID: 23677165
14.  Mir-655 up-regulation suppresses cell invasion by targeting pituitary tumor-transforming gene-1 in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) can act as either oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes under different conditions and thus can play a significant role in cancer development. We investigated miR-655 expression in a cohort of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) to assess the impact of this miRNA on ESCC cell invasion and metastasis.
A qRT-PCR assay was used to quantify miR-655 expression levels in 34 paired ESCC samples and adjacent non-tumor tissues. Wound healing and transwell assays were used to evaluate the effects of miR-655 expression on the invasiveness of ESCC cells. Luciferase reporter and western blot assays were used to determine whether the mRNA encoding pituitary tumor-transforming gene-1 (PTTG1) is a major target of miR-655.
The expression level of miR-655 in ESCC tissues was found to be lower than in adjacent non-tumor tissues (P < 0.05). This relatively low expression level was significantly associated with the occurrence of lymph node metastases (P < 0.05). Migration rates were significantly lower for two ESCC-derived cell lines (EC9706 and KYSE150) transfected with miR-429 mimics (P < 0.05). Subsequent western blot and luciferase reporter assays demonstrated that miR-655 could bind to putative binding sites within the PTTG1 mRNA 3’-untranslated region (3’-UTR) and thus reduce the expression.
miR-655 is expressed at low levels in primary ESCC tissues, and up-regulation of miR-655 inhibits ESCC cell invasiveness by targeting PTTG1. Our findings suggest that PTTG1 may act as a major target of miR-655. This study improves our understanding of the mechanisms underlying ESCC pathogenesis and may promote the development of novel targeted therapies.
PMCID: PMC4029436  PMID: 24314023
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; miR-655; Invasion; PTTG1
15.  Identifying microRNA/mRNA dysregulations in ovarian cancer 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:164.
MicroRNAs are a class of noncoding RNA molecules that co-regulate the expression of multiple genes via mRNA transcript degradation or translation inhibition. Since they often target entire pathways, they may be better drug targets than genes or proteins. MicroRNAs are known to be dysregulated in many tumours and associated with aggressive or poor prognosis phenotypes. Since they regulate mRNA in a tissue specific manner, their functional mRNA targets are poorly understood. In previous work, we developed a method to identify direct mRNA targets of microRNA using patient matched microRNA/mRNA expression data using an anti-correlation signature. This method, applied to clear cell Renal Cell Carcinoma (ccRCC), revealed many new regulatory pathways compromised in ccRCC. In the present paper, we apply this method to identify dysregulated microRNA/mRNA mechanisms in ovarian cancer using data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA).
TCGA Microarray data was normalized and samples whose class labels (tumour or normal) were ambiguous with respect to consensus ensemble K-Means clustering were removed. Significantly anti-correlated and correlated genes/microRNA differentially expressed between tumour and normal samples were identified. TargetScan was used to identify gene targets of microRNA.
We identified novel microRNA/mRNA mechanisms in ovarian cancer. For example, the expression level of RAD51AP1 was found to be strongly anti-correlated with the expression of hsa-miR-140-3p, which was significantly down-regulated in the tumour samples. The anti-correlation signature was present separately in the tumour and normal samples, suggesting a direct causal dysregulation of RAD51AP1 by hsa-miR-140-3p in the ovary. Other pairs of potentially biological relevance include: hsa-miR-145/E2F3, hsa-miR-139-5p/TOP2A, and hsa-miR-133a/GCLC. We also identified sets of positively correlated microRNA/mRNA pairs that are most likely result from indirect regulatory mechanisms.
Our findings identify novel microRNA/mRNA relationships that can be verified experimentally. We identify both generic microRNA/mRNA regulation mechanisms in the ovary as well as specific microRNA/mRNA controls which are turned on or off in ovarian tumours. Our results suggest that the disease process uses specific mechanisms which may be significant for their utility as early detection biomarkers or in the development of microRNA therapies in treating ovarian cancers. The positively correlated microRNA/mRNA pairs suggest the existence of novel regulatory mechanisms that proceed via intermediate states (indirect regulation) in ovarian tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC3342161  PMID: 22452920
16.  MiR-130b plays an oncogenic role by repressing PTEN expression in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma cells 
BMC Cancer  2015;15:29.
Esophageal carcinoma is one of the most common malignancies with high cancer-related morbidity and mortality worldwide. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small non-coding RNAs that regulate a wide variety of cellular processes, and also play an important role in the development and progression of cancers. In a previous microarray study, we demonstrated that miR-130b was upregulated in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) tissues. However, the biologic functions and the molecular mechanism of miR-130b in ESCC remain to be elucidated.
qRT-PCR assays were used to quantify miR-130b expression levels in ESCC samples. Novel targets of miR-130b were identified via a bioinformatics search and confirmed using a dual-luciferase reporter system. Western blotting and qRT-PCR assays were used to quantify the expression of the target gene PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homolog) and the downstream effector, Akt. ESCC cells over- or underexpressing miR-130b were analyzed for in vitro biologic functions.
High levels of miR-130b were identified in 20 ESCC samples following comparison with adjacent non-neoplastic tissues. We confirmed that miR-130b interacted with the 3′-untranslated region of PTEN, and that an increase in the expression level of miR-130b negatively affected the protein level of PTEN. However, the dysregulation of miR-130b had no obvious impact on PTEN mRNA. As Akt is a downstream effector of PTEN, we explored if miR-130b affected Akt expression, and found that miR-130b indirectly regulated the level of phosphorylated Akt, while total Akt protein remained unchanged. Overexpression of miR-130b increased the proliferation of ESCC cells and enhanced their ability to migrate and invade. In contrast, the proliferation, migration, and invasion of ESCC cells were weakened when miR-130b expression was suppressed, which was reversed by PTEN-targeted siRNA.
The results indicate that miR-130b plays an oncogenic role in ESCC cells by repressing PTEN expression and Akt phosphorylation, which would be helpful in developing miRNA-based treatments for ESCC.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12885-015-1031-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4318221  PMID: 25637514
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; miR-130b; Oncogenic; PTEN
17.  The expression profile of microRNAs in a model of 7,12-dimethyl-benz[a]anthrance-induced oral carcinogenesis in Syrian hamster 
Non-coding RNA molecules, such as microRNAs, may play an important role in carcinogenesis. Recent studies have indicated that microRNAs are involved in initiation and progression of various malignancies. However, little work has been done to compare the microRNA expression patterns in oral cancer. In this study, we constructed an animal model of oral squamous cell carcinoma to investigate expression profiles of microRNAs in oral carcinogenesis.
The animal model of oral squamous cell carcinoma was conducted by tri-weekly (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) painting with 5% DMBA in acetone. Six Syrian hamsters, including three from the treated group and three from the control group, were used as a training group for microRNA microarray analysis. All microarray data were analyzed by Significance Analysis of Microarrays (SAM) and CLUSTER 3.0 software, and this result was further confirmed by qRT-PCR assay.
Seventeen microRNAs were differentially expressed in oral squamous cell carcinoma. Five microRNAs (hsa-miR-21, hsa-miR-200b, hsa-miR-221, hsa-miR-338, and mmu-miR-762) were significantly upregulated and twelve microRNAs (hsa-miR-16, hsa-miR-26a, hsa-miR-29a, hsa-miR-124a, hsa-miR-125b, mmu-miR-126-5p, hsa-miR-143, hsa-miR-145, hsa-miR-148b, hsa-miR-155, hsa-miR-199a, and hsa-miR-203) were down-regulated in cancer tissues. The expression levels of hsa-miR-21 and hsa-miR-16 seen with Stem-loop qRT-PCR were also seen in microarray analysis in all samples.
Our findings identified specific microRNA expression in oral squamous cell carcinoma and suggested that microRNAs have a role in oral carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2687417  PMID: 19435529
18.  Genome-wide microRNA changes in human intracranial aneurysms 
BMC Neurology  2014;14(1):188.
Intracranial aneurysms are pathological dilatations of the cerebral artery, while rupture of intracranial aneurysms causes life-threatening subarachnoid hemorrhage. The molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis of intracranial aneurysms are poorly understood. MicroRNAs have fundamental roles in modulating vascular biology and disease. In the present study, we carried out a genome-wide characterization on expressions of microRNAs, and performed integrative analyses in conjunction with changes of the transcriptome in human intracranial aneurysms.
Genome-wide microRNA screening was performed in 6 intracranial aneurysmal samples and 6 normal superficial temporal arteries. Each case and control pair was individually matched with gender, age (±5 years), and high blood pressure history. Microarray analysis was performed using Agilent Human miRNA arrays.
As compared to normal arteries, we identified 157 microRNAs that were differentially expressed in the aneurysmal tissue (P < 0.05 and fold change ≥ 2), including 72 upregulated and 85 downregulated. The changed microRNAs included endothelium-enriched microRNAs such as members of the let-7 family, miR-17, miR-23b, miR-126, hsa-miR-24-1 and miR-222, and vascular smooth muscle-enriched miRNAs such as miR-143 and miR-145. Moreover, miR-1, miR-10a, miR-125b, and miR-26a, which were implicated in modulating vascular smooth muscle cell functions such as proliferation, apoptosis and shift of phenotype, were also changed. In contrast, microRNAs involved in monocyte and macrophage functions, such as miR-155, miR-146a, miR-223, and miR-124a, were not significantly changed. Bioinformatic analysis revealed that the changed microRNAs were associated with several biological processes related to aneurysm formation, including inflammation, dysregulation of extracellular matrix, smooth muscle cell proliferation, programmed cell death, and response to oxidative stress. Interestingly, we found that a subset of the potential microRNA target genes belonged to the protein translation machinery, including various eukaryotic translation initiation factors and ribosomal proteins, and this finding was highly correlated with our previous transcriptome data showing that multiple genes of the ribosomal proteins and translation initiation and elongation factors were significantly downregulated in human intracranial aneurysms.
Our results support that dysregulated microRNAs may have a pathogenic role in intracranial aneurysms. Disruption of the protein translation process may have a pathogenic role in the development of intracranial aneurysms.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12883-014-0188-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4210474  PMID: 25300531
Intracranial aneurysm; microRNA; Microarray; Human; Cerebral vascular disease; System biology; Transcriptome; Protein translation machinery
19.  Identification of unique expression signatures and therapeutic targets in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:73.
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), the predominant histological subtype of esophageal cancer, is characterized by high mortality. Previous work identified important mRNA expression differences between normal and tumor cells; however, to date there are limited ex vivo studies examining expression changes occurring during normal esophageal squamous cell differentiation versus those associated with tumorigenesis. In this study, we used a unique tissue microdissection strategy and microarrays to measure gene expression profiles associated with cell differentiation versus tumorigenesis in twelve cases of patient-matched normal basal squamous epithelial cells (NB), normal differentiated squamous epithelium (ND), and squamous cell cancer. Class comparison and pathway analysis were used to compare NB versus tumor in a search for unique therapeutic targets.
As a first step towards this goal, gene expression profiles and pathways were evaluated. Overall, ND expression patterns were markedly different from NB and tumor; whereas, tumor and NB were more closely related. Tumor showed a general decrease in differentially expressed genes relative to NB as opposed to ND that exhibited the opposite trend. FSH and IgG networks were most highly dysregulated in normal differentiation and tumorigenesis, respectively. DNA repair pathways were generally elevated in NB and tumor relative to ND indicating involvement in both normal and pathological growth. PDGF signaling pathway and 12 individual genes unique to the tumor/NB comparison were identified as therapeutic targets, and 10 associated ESCC gene-drug pairs were identified. We further examined the protein expression level and the distribution patterns of four genes: ODC1, POSTN, ASPA and IGF2BP3. Ultimately, three genes (ODC1, POSTN, ASPA) were verified to be dysregulated in the same pattern at both the mRNA and protein levels.
These data reveal insight into genes and molecular pathways mediating ESCC development and provide information potentially useful in designing novel therapeutic interventions for this tumor type.
PMCID: PMC3283499  PMID: 22280838
20.  microRNA-195-Cdc42 axis acts as a prognostic factor of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Background and purpose: Previous studies observed the downregulation of microRNA (miR)-195 in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) tissues, confirmed cell division cycle 42 (Cdc42) as one target gene of miR-195, and demonstrated that miR-195 may act as a tumor suppressor in ESCC by regulating Cdc42 expression. This study aimed to explore the association of miR-195 and Cdc42 combined expression with clinicopathologic factors and prognosis. Methods: Expression of miR-195 and Cdc42 mRNA in 98 pairs of ESCC and paracancerous tissues were detected using real-time quantitative RT-PCR. Results: miR-195 downregulation and Cdc42 upregulation were both prevalent in ESCC tissues, and negatively correlated with each other. In addition, miR-195 expression negatively correlated with TNM stage (P=0.008) and lymphatic metastasis (P=0.022), while Cdc42 expression positively correlated with TNM stage (P=0.011) and tumor differentiation (P=0.024). Moreover, combined expression of miR-195 and Cdc42 (miR-195/Cdc42) was found to be prognostic indicators for progression-free survival and overall survival of ESCC patients both in univariate and multivariate analyses. Conclusion: The main findings of this study indicate the involvement of miR-195-Cdc42 axis in the progression of ESCC and suggest that the combined aberrant expression of miR-195 and Cdc42 mRNA can serve as a promising unfavorable prognostic biomarker in ESCC.
PMCID: PMC4230103  PMID: 25400770
microRNA-195; cell division cycle 42; esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; real-time quantitative PCR; prognosis
21.  MicroRNA-34b has an oncogenic role in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Oncology Letters  2010;1(4):685-689.
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is a common malignancy and one of the more difficult diseases to diagnose in Japan due to its poor prognosis. MicroRNAs are small non-coding RNAs of 21–23 nucleotides that regulate gene expression. MicroRNA-34b (miR-34b) has been reported to be overexpressed in various types of cancer. However, its role in ESCC has yet to be extensively studied. The present study investigated the expression of miR-34b in 88 ESCC patients. The miR-34b expression in ESCC was significantly higher than that in the corresponding normal esophageal mucosa. It was more highly expressed in tumors with more advanced stages. However, its expression did not correlate with the p53 status. Transfection of anti-miR-34b to the ESCC cells suppressed cell growth in vitro. These results suggest an oncogenic role of miR in ESCC.
PMCID: PMC3436259  PMID: 22966364
microRNA-34b; esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; MTT assay
22.  MicroRNA-98 and microRNA-214 post-transcriptionally regulate enhancer of zeste homolog 2 and inhibit migration and invasion in human esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Molecular Cancer  2012;11:51.
The enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) was found to be overexpressed and associated with tumor metastasis in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). On the other hand, it was reported that miR-26a, miR-98, miR-101, miR-124, miR-138 and miR-214 could inhibit the expression of EZH2 in some tumors. However, the role of miRNAs in the regulation of EZH2 expression in human ESCC has not been documented. The aim of this study was to determine the role of these miRNAs in the regulation of tumor metastasis via EZH2 overexpression in human ESCC.
Methods and results
The expression of these miRNAs and EZH2 mRNA were examined by qPCR and the expression of EZH2 protein was detected by western blot. The role of these miRNAs in migration and invasion was studied in ESCC cell line (Eca109) transfected with miRNA mimics or cotransfected with miRNA mimics and pcDNA-EZH2 plasmid (without the 3’-UTR of EZH2). Through clinical investigation, we found that miR-98 and miR-214 expression was significantly lower in ESCC tissues than in matched normal tissues, and the expression level of miR-98 and miR-214 was inversely correlated to EZH2 protein expression and the clinical features such as pathological grade, tumor stage and lymph node metastasis in ESCC. In Eca109 cells, overexpression of miR-98 and miR-214 significantly inhibited the migration and invasion of ESCC cells, which was reversed by transfection of EZH2.
These findings suggest that decreased expression of miR-98 and miR-214 might promote metastasis of human ESCC by inducing accumulation of EZH2 protein.
PMCID: PMC3496689  PMID: 22867052
MiR-98; MiR-214; EZH2; ESCC; Migration; Invasion
23.  Identifying mRNA targets of microRNA dysregulated in cancer: with application to clear cell Renal Cell Carcinoma 
BMC Systems Biology  2010;4:51.
MicroRNA regulate mRNA levels in a tissue specific way, either by inducing degradation of the transcript or by inhibiting translation or transcription. Putative mRNA targets of microRNA identified from seed sequence matches are available in many databases. However, such matches have a high false positive rate and cannot identify tissue specificity of regulation.
We describe a simple method to identify direct mRNA targets of microRNA dysregulated in cancers from expression level measurements in patient matched tumor/normal samples. The word "direct" is used here in a strict sense to: a) represent mRNA which have an exact seed sequence match to the microRNA in their 3'UTR, b) the seed sequence match is strictly conserved across mouse, human, rat and dog genomes, c) the mRNA and microRNA expression levels can distinguish tumor from normal with high significance and d) the microRNA/mRNA expression levels are strongly and significantly anti-correlated in tumor and/or normal samples. We apply and validate the method using clear cell Renal Cell Carcinoma (ccRCC) and matched normal kidney samples, limiting our analysis to mRNA targets which undergo degradation of the mRNA transcript because of a perfect seed sequence match. Dysregulated microRNA and mRNA are first identified by comparing their expression levels in tumor vs normal samples. Putative dysregulated microRNA/mRNA pairs are identified from these using seed sequence matches, requiring that the seed sequence be conserved in human/dog/rat/mouse genomes. These are further pruned by requiring a strong anti-correlation signature in tumor and/or normal samples. The method revealed many new regulations in ccRCC. For instance, loss of miR-149, miR-200c and mir-141 causes gain of function of oncogenes (KCNMA1, LOX), VEGFA and SEMA6A respectively and increased levels of miR-142-3p, miR-185, mir-34a, miR-224, miR-21 cause loss of function of tumor suppressors LRRC2, PTPN13, SFRP1, ERBB4, and (SLC12A1, TCF21) respectively. We also found strong anti-correlation between VEGFA and the miR-200 family of microRNA: miR-200a*, 200b, 200c and miR-141. Several identified microRNA/mRNA pairs were validated on an independent set of matched ccRCC/normal samples. The regulation of SEMA6A by miR-141 was verified by a transfection assay.
We describe a simple and reliable method to identify direct gene targets of microRNA in any cancer. The constraints we impose (strong dysregulation signature for microRNA and mRNA levels between tumor/normal samples, evolutionary conservation of seed sequence and strong anti-correlation of expression levels) remove spurious matches and identify a subset of robust, tissue specific, functional mRNA targets of dysregulated microRNA.
PMCID: PMC2876063  PMID: 20420713
24.  microRNA-155 acts as an oncogene by targeting the tumor protein 53-induced nuclear protein 1 in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
MicroRNA-155 (miR-155) is overexpressed in many human cancers; however, the function of miR-155 is largely unknown in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). In the present study, we found that miR-155 is dramatically increased in ESCC tissues compared with the paired adjacent normal tissues, which suggested that miR-155 acts as an oncogene in ESCC. We predicted that tumor protein p53-induced nuclear protein 1 (TP53INP1) is a candidate target gene of miR-155 given that miR-155 expression decreased mRNA and protein levels of TP53INP1 as determined by RT-PCR and Western blot analysis. In addition, miR-155 and TP53INP1 showed a negative relation in ESCC tissues. Dual luciferase-based reporter assay indicated direct regulation of TP53INP1 by miR-155. Furthermore, we demonstrated that RNA interference of TP53INP1 increased the proliferation and colonies formation of EC-1 cells. Up-regulation of TP53INP1 abrogated miR-155 induced growth in EC-1 cells and mutation of TP53INP1 in 3’-UTR restored the effects when co-transfected with miR-155. We also indicated that overexpression of miR-155 significantly promoted the proliferation of EC-1 cells in vitro and the development of tumors in nude mice. Taken together, our study reveals that miR-155 acts as an oncogene by targeting TP53INP1 in ESCC.
PMCID: PMC3925904  PMID: 24551280
ESCC; TP53INP1; miR-155
25.  Effects and interactions of MiR-577 and TSGA10 in regulating esophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Testis specific 10 (TSGA10) was originally identified as a testis-specific protein and tumor-associated antigen in a number of cancer types. In this study, we found that down-regulation of TSGA10 was associated with increased malignancy and clinical features of esophageal squamous cell carcinomas (ESCCs). Moreover, increased expression of TSGA10 inhibited, while its knockdown promoted, tumor formation in vivo in nude mice. At the 3’UTR of the TSGA10 gene we identified two binding sites for microRNA-577 (miR-577). Further investigation demonstrated that expression levels of miR-577 and TSGA10 were negatively correlated to each other in ESCC cell lines and tumor samples. Moreover, manipulation of miR-577 and TSGA10 expression confirmed that miR-577 can regulate TSGA10 and in turn affect cell proliferation in vitro. Additionally, with flow cytometry and manipulation of the mir-577/TSGA10 axis, it was found that mir-577/TSGA10 axis influenced the growth of ESCC through regulating the G1-S phase transition. We also obtained evidence to establish that mir-577/TSGA10 axis activation was always accompanied by inactivation of the p53 pathway or the Rb pathway or both, thus, the latter two pathways are obligatory for progression of ESCCs with mir-577/TSGA10 axis activation. In addition, we found that such an interactive pathway in regulating cancer cell proliferation was restricted to a few cancer types including ESCC, but not uniformly applicable to other cancer types. This newly discovered regulatory mechanism provides a new dimension for ESCC diagnosis and therapy.
PMCID: PMC3843246  PMID: 24294352
ESCC; TSGA10; miR-577; G1-S phase transition; p53/p21 pathway; Rb/p16 pathway

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