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1.  The miR-545/374a Cluster Encoded in the Ftx lncRNA is Overexpressed in HBV-Related Hepatocellular Carcinoma and Promotes Tumorigenesis and Tumor Progression 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109782.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a major risk factor for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Previous studies have shown several long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) play various roles in HCC progression, but no research has focused on the expression pattern of microRNA clusters encoded in lncRNAs. The Ftx gene encodes a lncRNA which harbors 2 clusters of microRNAs in its introns, the miR-374b/421 cluster and the miR-545/374a cluster. To date, no research has focused on the role of the miR-545/374a and miR-374b/421 clusters in HBV-related HCC. In this study, 66 pairs of HBV-related HCC tissue and matched non-cancerous liver tissue specimens were analyzed for the expression of the Ftx microRNA clusters. Our results showed that the miR-545/374a cluster was upregulated in HBV-HCC tissue and significantly correlated with prognosis-related clinical features, including histological grade, metastasis and tumor capsule. Transfection studies with microRNA mimics and inhibitors revealed that miR-545/374a expression promoted in vitro cell proliferation, cell migration and invasion. The wild-type HBV-genome-containing plasmid or full-length HBx protein encoding plasmid was transfected into the Bel-7402 cell line and observed for their influence on miR-545/374a expression. We found that transfection of the HBV genome or HBx alone resulted in an increase in miR-545/374a expression. Next, by monitoring the expression of sera miR-545/374a before and after surgical tumor excision, we found serum miR-545/374a was tumor-derived and exhibited a sharp decrease 25 days after tumor excision. We also examined the gender-based difference in miR-545/374a expression among HCC patients and utilized microRNA target prediction software to find the targets of miR-545/374a. One of these targets, namely estrogen-related receptor gamma (ESRRG) was inversely correlated with miR-545 expression. In conclusion, the overexpression of miR-545/374a cluster located in the Ftx lncRNA is partially responsible for a poor prognosis, and monitoring sera levels of miR-545/374a may be a useful diagnostic marker for HCC.
PMCID: PMC4192320  PMID: 25299640
2.  Methylation-mediated silencing and tumour suppressive function of hsa-miR-124 in cervical cancer 
Molecular Cancer  2010;9:167.
A substantial number of microRNAs (miRNAs) is subject to epigenetic silencing in cancer. Although epigenetic silencing of tumour suppressor genes is an important feature of cervical cancer, little is known about epigenetic silencing of miRNAs. Since DNA methylation-based silencing of hsa-miR-124 occurs in various human cancers, we studied the frequency and functional effects of hsa-miR-124 methylation in cervical carcinogenesis.
Quantitative MSP analysis of all 3 loci encoding the mature hsa-miR-124 (hsa-miR-124-1/-2/-3) showed methylation in cervical cancer cell lines SiHa, CaSki and HeLa as well as in late passages of human papillomavirus (HPV) type 16 or 18 immortalised keratinocytes. Treatment of SiHa cells with a demethylating agent reduced hsa-miR-124 methylation levels and induced hsa-miR-124 expression. In HPV-immortalised keratinocytes increased methylation levels were related to reduced hsa-miR-124 expression and higher mRNA expression of IGFBP7, a potential hsa-miR-124 target gene. Ectopic hsa-miR-124 expression in SiHa and CaSki cells decreased proliferation rates and migratory capacity. Combined hsa-miR-124-1 and/or hsa-miR-124-2 methylation analysis of 139 cervical tissue specimens showed an increasing methylation frequency from 0% in normal tissues up to 93% in cervical carcinomas. Increased methylation levels of hsa-miR-124-1 and hsa-miR-124-2 were significantly correlated with reduced hsa-miR-124 expression in cervical tissue specimens. Combined hsa-miR-124-1 and/or hsa-miR-124-2 methylation analysis of 43 cervical scrapes of high-risk HPV positive women was predictive of underlying high-grade lesions.
DNA methylation-based silencing of hsa-miR-124 is functionally involved in cervical carcinogenesis and may provide a valuable marker for improved detection of cervical cancer and its high-grade precursor lesions.
PMCID: PMC2917428  PMID: 20579385
3.  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
4.  Aberrant Expression of Oncogenic and Tumor-Suppressive MicroRNAs in Cervical Cancer Is Required for Cancer Cell Growth 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(7):e2557.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play important roles in cancer development. By cloning and sequencing of a HPV16+ CaSki cell small RNA library, we isolated 174 miRNAs (including the novel miR-193c) which could be grouped into 46 different miRNA species, with miR-21, miR-24, miR-27a, and miR-205 being most abundant. We chose for further study 10 miRNAs according to their cloning frequency and associated their levels in 10 cervical cancer- or cervical intraepithelial neoplasia-derived cell lines. No correlation was observed between their expression with the presence or absence of an integrated or episomal HPV genome. All cell lines examined contained no detectable miR-143 and miR-145. HPV-infected cell lines expressed a different set of miRNAs when grown in organotypic raft cultured as compared to monolayer cell culture, including expression of miR-143 and miR-145. This suggests a correlation between miRNA expression and tissue differentiation. Using miRNA array analyses for age-matched normal cervix and cervical cancer tissues, in combination with northern blot verification, we identified significantly deregulated miRNAs in cervical cancer tissues, with miR-126, miR-143, and miR-145 downregulation and miR-15b, miR-16, miR-146a, and miR-155 upregulation. Functional studies showed that both miR-143 and miR-145 are suppressive to cell growth. When introduced into cell lines, miR-146a was found to promote cell proliferation. Collectively, our data indicate that downregulation of miR-143 and miR-145 and upregulation of miR-146a play a role in cervical carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2438475  PMID: 18596939
5.  microRNA-122 as a regulator of mitochondrial metabolic gene network in hepatocellular carcinoma 
A moderate loss of miR-122 function correlates with up-regulation of seed-matched genes and down-regulation of mitochondrially localized genes in both human hepatocellular carcinoma and in normal mice treated with anti-miR-122 antagomir.Putative direct targets up-regulated with loss of miR-122 and secondary targets down-regulated with loss of miR-122 are conserved between human beings and mice and are rapidly regulated in vitro in response to miR-122 over- and under-expression.Loss of miR-122 secondary target expression in either tumorous or adjacent non-tumorous tissue predicts poor survival of heptatocellular carcinoma patients.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most aggressive human malignancies, common in Asia, Africa, and in areas with endemic infections of hepatitis-B or -C viruses (HBV or HCV) (But et al, 2008). Globally, the 5-year survival rate of HCC is <5% and about 600 000 HCC patients die each year. The high mortality associated with this disease is mainly attributed to the failure to diagnose HCC patients at an early stage and a lack of effective therapies for patients with advanced stage HCC. Understanding the relationships between phenotypic and molecular changes in HCC is, therefore, of paramount importance for the development of improved HCC diagnosis and treatment methods.
In this study, we examined mRNA and microRNA (miRNA)-expression profiles of tumor and adjacent non-tumor liver tissue from HCC patients. The patient population was selected from a region of endemic HBV infection, and HBV infection appears to contribute to the etiology of HCC in these patients. A total of 96 HCC patients were included in the study, of which about 88% tested positive for HBV antigen; patients testing positive for HCV antigen were excluded. Among the 220 miRNAs profiled, miR-122 was the most highly expressed miRNA in liver, and its expression was decreased almost two-fold in HCC tissue relative to adjacent non-tumor tissue, confirming earlier observations (Lagos-Quintana et al, 2002; Kutay et al, 2006; Budhu et al, 2008).
Over 1000 transcripts were correlated and over 1000 transcripts were anti-correlated with miR-122 expression. Consistent with the idea that transcripts anti-correlated with miR-122 are potential miR-122 targets, the most highly anti-correlated transcripts were highly enriched for the presence of the miR-122 central seed hexamer, CACTCC, in the 3′UTR. Although the complete set of negatively correlated genes was enriched for cell-cycle genes, the subset of seed-matched genes had no significant KEGG Pathway annotation, suggesting that miR-122 is unlikely to directly regulate the cell cycle in these patients. In contrast, transcripts positively correlated with miR-122 were not enriched for 3′UTR seed matches to miR-122. Interestingly, these 1042 transcripts were enriched for genes coding for mitochondrially localized proteins and for metabolic functions.
To analyze the impact of loss of miR-122 in vivo, silencing of miR-122 was performed by antisense inhibition (anti-miR-122) in wild-type mice (Figure 3). As with the genes negatively correlated with miR-122 in HCC patients, no significant biological annotation was associated with the seed-matched genes up-regulated by anti-miR-122 in mouse livers. The most significantly enriched biological annotation for anti-miR-122 down-regulated genes, as for positively correlated genes in HCC, was mitochondrial localization; the down-regulated mitochondrial genes were enriched for metabolic functions. Putative direct and downstream targets with orthologs on both the human and mouse microarrays showed significant overlap for regulations in the same direction. These overlaps defined sets of putative miR-122 primary and secondary targets. The results were further extended in the analysis of a separate dataset from 180 HCC, 40 cirrhotic, and 6 normal liver tissue samples (Figure 4), showing anti-correlation of proposed primary and secondary targets in non-healthy tissues.
To validate the direct correlation between miR-122 and some of the primary and secondary targets, we determined the expression of putative targets after transfection of miR-122 mimetic into PLC/PRF/5 HCC cells, including the putative direct targets SMARCD1 and MAP3K3 (MEKK3), a target described in the literature, CAT-1 (SLC7A1), and three putative secondary targets, PPARGC1A (PGC-1α) and succinate dehydrogenase subunits A and B. As expected, the putative direct targets showed reduced expression, whereas the putative secondary target genes showed increased expression in cells over-expressing miR-122 (Figure 4).
Functional classification of genes using the total ancestry method (Yu et al, 2007) identified PPARGC1A (PGC-1α) as the most connected secondary target. PPARGC1A has been proposed to function as a master regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis (Ventura-Clapier et al, 2008), suggesting that loss of PPARGC1A expression may contribute to the loss of mitochondrial gene expression correlated with loss of miR-122 expression. To further validate the link of miR-122 and PGC-1α protein, we transfected PLC/PRF/5 cells with miR-122-expression vector, and observed an increase in PGC-1α protein levels. Importantly, transfection of both miR-122 mimetic and miR-122-expression vector significantly reduced the lactate content of PLC/PRF/5 cells, whereas anti-miR-122 treatment increased lactate production. Together, the data support the function of miR-122 in mitochondrial metabolic functions.
Patient survival was not directly associated with miR-122-expression levels. However, miR-122 secondary targets were expressed at significantly higher levels in both tumor and adjacent non-tumor tissues among survivors as compared with deceased patients, providing supporting evidence for the potential relevance of loss of miR-122 function in HCC patient morbidity and mortality.
Overall, our findings reveal potentially new biological functions for miR-122 in liver physiology. We observed decreased expression of miR-122, a liver-specific miRNA, in HBV-associated HCC, and loss of miR-122 seemed to correlate with the decrease of mitochondrion-related metabolic pathway gene expression in HCC and in non-tumor liver tissues, a result that is consistent with the outcome of treatment of mice with anti-miR-122 and is of prognostic significance for HCC patients. Further investigation will be conducted to dissect the regulatory function of miR-122 on mitochondrial metabolism in HCC and to test whether increasing miR-122 expression can improve mitochondrial function in liver and perhaps in liver tumor tissues. Moreover, these results support the idea that primary targets of a given miRNA may be distributed over a variety of functional categories while resulting in a coordinated secondary response, potentially through synergistic action (Linsley et al, 2007).
Tumorigenesis involves multistep genetic alterations. To elucidate the microRNA (miRNA)–gene interaction network in carcinogenesis, we examined their genome-wide expression profiles in 96 pairs of tumor/non-tumor tissues from hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Comprehensive analysis of the coordinate expression of miRNAs and mRNAs reveals that miR-122 is under-expressed in HCC and that increased expression of miR-122 seed-matched genes leads to a loss of mitochondrial metabolic function. Furthermore, the miR-122 secondary targets, which decrease in expression, are good prognostic markers for HCC. Transcriptome profiling data from additional 180 HCC and 40 liver cirrhotic patients in the same cohort were used to confirm the anti-correlation of miR-122 primary and secondary target gene sets. The HCC findings can be recapitulated in mouse liver by silencing miR-122 with antagomir treatment followed by gene-expression microarray analysis. In vitro miR-122 data further provided a direct link between induction of miR-122-controlled genes and impairment of mitochondrial metabolism. In conclusion, miR-122 regulates mitochondrial metabolism and its loss may be detrimental to sustaining critical liver function and contribute to morbidity and mortality of liver cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC2950084  PMID: 20739924
hepatocellular carcinoma; microarray; miR-122; mitochondrial; survival
6.  The MicroRNA Expression Signature of Bladder Cancer by Deep Sequencing: The Functional Significance of the miR-195/497 Cluster 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e84311.
Current genome-wide microRNA (miRNA) expression signature analysis using deep sequencing technologies can drive the discovery of novel cancer pathways regulated by oncogenic and/or tumor suppressive miRNAs. We determined the genome-wide miRNA expression signature in bladder cancer (BC) by deep sequencing technology. A total of ten small RNA libraries were sequenced (five BCs and five samples of histologically normal bladder epithelia (NBE)), and 13,190,619 to 18,559,060 clean small RNA reads were obtained. A total of 933 known miRNAs and 17 new miRNA candidates were detected in this analysis. Among the known miRNAs, a total of 60 miRNAs were significantly downregulated in BC compared with NBE. We also found that several miRNAs, such as miR-1/133a, miR-206/133b, let-7c/miR-99a, miR-143/145 and miR-195/497, were located close together at five distinct loci and constituted clustered miRNAs. Among these clustered miRNAs, we focused on the miR-195/497 cluster because this clustered miRNA had not been analyzed in BC. Transfection of mature miR-195 or miR-497 in two BC cell lines (BOY and T24) significantly inhibited cancer cell proliferation, migration and invasion, suggesting that the miR-195/497 cluster functioned as tumor suppressors in BC. Regarding the genes targeted by the miR-195/497 cluster, the TargetScan algorithm showed that 6,730 genes were putative miR-195/497 targets, and 113 significantly enriched signaling pathways were identified in this analysis. The “Pathways in cancer” category was the most enriched, involving 104 candidate target genes. Gene expression data revealed that 27 of 104 candidate target genes were actually upregulated in BC clinical specimens. Luciferase reporter assays and Western blotting demonstrated that BIRC5 and WNT7A were directly targeted by miR-195/497. In conclusion, aberrant expression of clustered miRNAs was identified by deep sequencing, and downregulation of miR-195/497 contributed to BC progression and metastasis. Tumor suppressive miRNA-mediated cancer pathways provide new insights into the potential mechanisms of BC oncogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3919700  PMID: 24520312
7.  MicroRNA Profiles in Familial and Sporadic Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma: Preliminary Relationships with RET Status and Outcome 
Thyroid  2012;22(9):890-896.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are involved in the pathogenesis of human cancers, including medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC). The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that different miRNA profiles are related to RET status and prognosis in patients with hereditary MTC (hMTC) and sporadic MTC (sMTC).
We analyzed the expression of nine miRNAs (miR-21, miR-127, miR-154, miR-224, miR-323, miR-370, miR-9*, miR-183, and miR-375) by quantitative real-time–polymerase chain reaction in 34 cases of sMTC, 6 cases of hMTC, and 2 cases of C-cell hyperplasia (CCH). We also analyzed the immunohistochemical expression of PDCD4, an miR-21 gene target. sMTC (n=34) was genotyped for somatic RET and RAS mutations. Disease status was defined on the basis of the concentration of serum calcitonin at the latest follow-up and other parameters as indicated in the results.
MTC and CCH were both characterized by a significant overexpression of the whole set of miRNAs (the increase being 4.2-fold for miR-21, 6.7-fold for miR-127, 8.8-fold for miR-154, 6.6-fold for miR-224, 5.8-fold for miR-323, 6.1-fold for miR-370, 13-fold for miR-9*, 6.7-fold for miR-183, and 10.1 for miR-375, p<0.0001). PDCD4 expression was significantly downregulated in MTC samples, consistent with miR-21 upregulation. Significantly lower miR-127 levels were observed in sMTC carrying somatic RET mutations in comparison to sMTC carrying a wild-type RET. In sMTC and familial MTC, the miR-224 upregulation correlated with the absence of node metastases, lower stages at diagnosis, and with biochemical cure during follow-up.
miRNAs are significantly dysregulated in MTC, and this dysregulation is probably an early event in C-cell carcinogenesis. miR-224 upregulation could represent a prognostic biomarker associated with a better outcome in MTC patients.
PMCID: PMC3429275  PMID: 22747440
8.  Tumor suppressive microRNA-218 inhibits cancer cell migration and invasion by targeting focal adhesion pathways in cervical squamous cell carcinoma 
International Journal of Oncology  2013;42(5):1523-1532.
Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women. More than 275,100 women die from cervical cancer each year. Cervical squamous cell carcinoma (cervical SCC), one of the most frequent types of cervical cancers, is associated with high-risk human papilloma virus (HPV), although HPV infection alone may not be enough to induce malignant transformation. MicroRNAs (miRNAs), a class of small non-coding RNAs, regulate protein-coding gene expression by repressing translation or cleaving RNA transcripts in a sequence-specific manner. A growing body of evidence suggests that miRNAs contribute to cervical SCC progression, development and metastasis. miRNA expression signatures in SCC (hypopharyngeal SCC and esophageal SCC) revealed that miR-218 expression was significantly reduced in cancer tissues compared with adjacent non-cancerous epithelium, suggesting that miR-218 is a candidate tumor suppressor. The aim of this study was to investigate the functional significance of miR-218 in cervical SCC and to identify novel miR-218-mediated cancer pathways in cervical SCC. Restoration of miR-218 significantly inhibited cancer cell migration and invasion in both HPV-positive and HPV-negative cervical SCC cell lines. These data indicated that miR-218 acts as a tumor suppressor in cervical SCC. Our in silico analysis showed that miR-218 appeared to be an important modulator of tumor cell processes through suppression of many targets, particularly those involved in focal adhesion signaling pathways. Gene expression data indicated that LAMB3, a laminin protein known to influence cell differentiation, migration, adhesion, proliferation and survival, was upregulated in cervical SCC clinical specimens, and silencing studies demonstrated that LAMB3 functioned as an oncogene in cervical SCC. The identification of novel tumor-suppressive miR-218-mediated molecular pathways has provided new insights into cervical SCC oncogenesis and metastasis.
PMCID: PMC3661225  PMID: 23483249
microRNA; miR-218; tumor suppressor; cervical cancer; LAMB3; focal adhesion
9.  MicroRNA expression in ovarian carcinoma and its correlation with clinicopathological features 
MicroRNA (miRNA) expression is known to be deregulated in ovarian carcinomas. However, limited data is available about the miRNA expression pattern for the benign or borderline ovarian tumors as well as differential miRNA expression pattern associated with histological types, grades or clinical stages in ovarian carcinomas. We defined patterns of microRNA expression in tissues from normal, benign, borderline, and malignant ovarian tumors and explored the relationship between frequently deregulated miRNAs and clinicopathologic findings, response to therapy, survival, and association with Her-2/neu status in ovarian carcinomas.
We measured the expression of nine miRNAs (miR-181d, miR-30a-3p, miR-30c, miR-30d, miR-30e-3p, miR-368, miR-370, miR-493-5p, miR-532-5p) in 171 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded ovarian tissue blocks as well as six normal human ovarian surface epithelial (HOSE) cell lines using Taqman-based real-time PCR assays. Her-2/neu overexpression was assessed in ovarian carcinomas (n = 109 cases) by immunohistochemistry analysis.
Expression of four miRNAs (miR-30c, miR-30d, miR-30e-3p, miR-370) was significantly different between carcinomas and benign ovarian tissues as well as between carcinoma and borderline tissues. An additional three miRNAs (miR-181d, miR-30a-3p, miR-532-5p) were significantly different between borderline and carcinoma tissues. Expression of miR-532-5p was significantly lower in borderline than in benign tissues. Among ovarian carcinomas, expression of four miRNAs (miR-30a-3p, miR-30c, miR-30d, miR-30e-3p) was lowest in mucinous and highest in clear cell samples. Expression of miR-30a-3p was higher in well-differentiated compared to poorly differentiated tumors (P = 0.02), and expression of miR-370 was higher in stage I/II compared to stage III/IV samples (P = 0.03). In multivariate analyses, higher expression of miR-181d, miR-30c, miR-30d, and miR-30e-3p was associated with significantly better disease-free or overall survival. Finally, lower expression of miR-30c, miR-30d, miR-30e-3p and miR-532-5p was significantly associated with overexpression of Her-2/neu.
Aberrant expression of miRNAs is common in ovarian tumor suggesting involvement of miRNA in ovarian tumorigenesis. They are associated with histology, clinical stage, survival and oncogene expression in ovarian carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC3449188  PMID: 22925189
miRNA; Ovarian tumor; Her2/neu; Survival
10.  MicroRNA-143 suppresses gastric cancer cell growth and induces apoptosis by targeting COX-2 
AIM: To investigate the function of microRNA-143 (miR-143) in gastric cancer and explore the target genes of miR-143.
METHODS: A quantitative real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis was performed to evaluate miR-143 expression in gastric cancer cell lines. After transfecting gastric cancer cells with miR-143-5p and miR-143-3p precursors, Alamar blue and apoptosis assays were used to measure the respective proliferation and apoptosis rates. Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression was determined by real-time RT-PCR and Western blot assays after miR-143 transfection. Reporter plasmids were constructed, and a luciferase reporter assay was used to identify the miR-143 binding site on COX-2.
RESULTS: Both miR-143-5p and miR-143-3p were significantly downregulated in multiple gastric cancer cell lines. Forced miR-143-5p and miR-143-3p expression in gastric cancer cells produced a profound cytotoxic effect. MiR-145-5p transfection into gastric cancer cells resulted in a greater growth inhibitory effect (61.23% ± 3.16% vs 46.58% ± 4.28%, P < 0.05 in the MKN-1 cell line) and a higher apoptosis rate (28.74% ± 1.93% vs 22.13% ± 3.31%, P < 0.05 in the MKN-1 cell line) than miR-143-3p transfection. Further analysis indicated that COX-2 expression was potently suppressed by miR-143-5p but not by miR-143-3p. The activity of a luciferase reporter construct that contained the 3’-untranslated region (UTR) of COX-2 was downregulated by miR-143-5p (43.6% ± 4.86%, P < 0.01) but not by miR-143-3p. A mutation in the miR-145-5p binding site completely ablated the regulatory effect on luciferase activity, which suggests that there is a direct miR-145-5p binding site in the 3’-UTR of COX-2.
CONCLUSION: Both miR-143-5p and miR-143-3p function as anti-oncomirs in gastric cancer. However, miR-143-5p alone directly targets COX-2, and it exhibits a stronger tumor suppressive effect than miR-143-3p.
PMCID: PMC3837276  PMID: 24616567
Gastric cancer; MicroRNA-143; Anti-oncomir; Cyclooxygenase-2; Apoptosis
11.  MicroRNA signatures associate with pathogenesis and progression of osteosarcoma 
Cancer Research  2012;72(7):1865-1877.
Osteosarcoma remains a leading cause of cancer death in adolescents. Treatment paradigms and survival rates have not improved in two decades. Driving the lack of therapeutic inroads, the molecular etiology of osteosarcoma remains elusive. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have demonstrated far-reaching effects on the cellular biology of development and cancer. Their role in osteosarcomagenesis remains largely unexplored. Here we identify for the first time an miRNA signature reflecting the pathogenesis of osteosarcoma from surgically procured samples from human patients. The signature includes high expression of miR-181a, miR-181b, and miR-181c as well as reduced expression of miR-16, miR-29b, and miR-142-5p. We also demonstrate that miR-181b and miR-29b exhibit restricted expression to distinct cell populations in the tumor tissue. Further, higher expression of miR-27a and miR-181c* in pre-treatment biopsy samples characterized patients who developed clinical metastatic disease. In addition, higher expression of miR-451 and miR-15b in pre-treatment samples correlated with subsequent positive response to chemotherapy. In vitro and in vivo functional validation in osteosarcoma cell lines confirmed the tumor suppressive role of miR-16 and the pro-metastatic role of miR-27a. Furthermore, predicted target genes for miR-16 and miR-27a were confirmed as down-regulated by real-time PCR. Affymetrix array profiling of cDNAs from the osteosarcoma specimens and controls were interrogated according to predicted targets of miR-16, miR142-5p, miR-29b, miR-181a/b, and miR-27a. This analysis revealed positive and negative correlations highlighting pathways of known importance to osteosarcoma, as well as novel genes. Thus, our findings establish a miRNA signature associated with pathogenesis of osteosarcoma as well as critical pre-treatment biomarkers of metastasis and responsiveness to therapy.
PMCID: PMC3328547  PMID: 22350417
osteosarcoma; microRNA; chemotherapy; metastasis-related miRs; gene array
12.  MicroRNA-4723 Inhibits Prostate Cancer Growth through Inactivation of the Abelson Family of Nonreceptor Protein Tyrosine Kinases 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e78023.
The Abelson (c-Abl) proto-oncogene encodes a highly conserved nonreceptor protein tyrosine kinase that plays a role in cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis and cell adhesion. c-Abl represents a specific anti-cancer target in prostate cancer as aberrant activity of this kinase has been implicated in the stimulation of prostate cancer growth and progression. However, the mechanism of regulation of c-Abl is not known. Here we report that Abl kinases are regulated by a novel microRNA, miR-4723, in prostate cancer. Expression profiling of miR-4723 expression in a cohort of prostate cancer clinical specimens showed that miR-4723 expression is widely attenuated in prostate cancer. Low miR-4723 expression was significantly correlated with poor survival outcome and our analyses suggest that miR-4723 has significant potential as a disease biomarker for diagnosis and prognosis in prostate cancer. To evaluate the functional significance of decreased miR-4723 expression in prostate cancer, miR-4723 was overexpressed in prostate cancer cell lines followed by functional assays. miR-4723 overexpression led to significant decreases in cell growth, clonability, invasion and migration. Importantly, miR-4723 expression led to dramatic induction of apoptosis in prostate cancer cell lines suggesting that miR-4723 is a pro-apoptotic miRNA regulating prostate carcinogenesis. Analysis of putative miR-4723 targets showed that miR-4723 targets integrin alpha 3 and Methyl CpG binding protein in addition to Abl1 and Abl2 kinases. Further, we found that the expression of Abl kinase is inversely correlated with miR-4723 expression in prostate cancer clinical specimens. Also, Abl1 knockdown partially phenocopies miR-4723 reexpression in prostate cancer cells suggesting that Abl is a functionally relevant target of miR-4723 in prostate cancer. In conclusion, we have identified a novel microRNA that mediates regulation of Abl kinases in prostate cancer. This study suggests that miR-4723 may be an attractive target for therapeutic intervention in prostate cancer.
PMCID: PMC3815229  PMID: 24223753
13.  MiR-124 suppresses tumor growth and metastasis by targeting Foxq1 in nasopharyngeal carcinoma 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13(1):186.
The molecular mechanisms underlying dysregulation of microRNAs have been documented in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). Our previous study demonstrated that plasma miR-124 was down-regulated in NPC using microarray analysis and quantitative PCR validation. Though growing studies showed that down-regulated miR-124 was closely related to tumourigenesis in various types of cancers, the role of miR-124 in NPC remains largely unknown.
The expression level of miR-124 was evaluated in NPC cell lines and patient specimens using quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (Real-time qPCR). The clinicopathological significance of the resultant data was later analyzed. Then, we explored the role of miR-124 in NPC tumorigenesis by in vitro and in vivo experiments. Homo sapiens forkhead box Q1 (Foxq1) was confirmed as a novel direct target gene of miR-124 by the dual-luciferase assay and western bolt.
We found that miR-124 was commonly down-regulated in NPC specimens and NPC cell lines. The expression of miR-124 was inversely correlation with clinical stages and marked on T stages. Then, the ectopic expression of miR-124 dramatically inhibited cell proliferation, colony formation, migration and invasion in vitro, as well as tumor growth and metastasis in vivo. Furthermore, we identified Foxq1 as a novel direct target of miR-124. Functional studies showed that knockdown of Foxq1 inhibited cell growth, migration and invasion, whereas Foxq1 overexpression partially rescued the suppressive effect of miR-124 in NPC. In clinical specimens, Foxq1 was commonly up-regulated in NPC, and the level increased with clinical stages and T stages. Additionally, the level of Foxq1 was inversely correlated with miR-124.
Our results demonstrate that miR-124 functions as a tumor-suppressive microRNA in NPC, and that its suppressive effects are mediated chiefly by repressing Foxq1 expression. MiR-124 could serve as an independent biomarker to identify patients with different clinical characteristics. Therefore, our findings provide valuable clues toward the understanding the of mechanisms of NPC pathogenesis and provide an opportunity to develop new effective clinical therapies in the future.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-186) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4267157  PMID: 25098939
MicroRNA-124; Tumor growth; Metastasis; Nasopharyngeal carcinoma; Foxq1
14.  Serial selection for invasiveness increases expression of miR-143/miR-145 in glioblastoma cell lines 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:143.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common primary central nervous system malignancy and its unique invasiveness renders it difficult to treat. This invasive phenotype, like other cellular processes, may be controlled in part by microRNAs - a class of small non-coding RNAs that act by altering the expression of targeted messenger RNAs. In this report, we demonstrate a straightforward method for creating invasive subpopulations of glioblastoma cells (IM3 cells). To understand the correlation between the expression of miRNAs and the invasion, we fully profiled 1263 miRNAs on six different cell lines and two miRNAs, miR-143 and miR-145, were selected for validation of their biological properties contributing to invasion. Further, we investigated an ensemble effect of both miR-143 and miR-145 in promoting invasion.
By repeated serial invasion through Matrigel®-coated membranes, we isolated highly invasive subpopulations of glioma cell lines. Phenotypic characterization of these cells included in vitro assays for proliferation, attachment, and invasion. Micro-RNA expression was compared using miRCURY arrays (Exiqon). In situ hybridization allowed visualization of the regional expression of miR-143 and miR-145 in tumor samples, and antisense probes were used investigate in vitro phenotypic changes seen with knockdown in their expression.
The phenotype we created in these selected cells proved stable over multiple passages, and their microRNA expression profiles were measurably different. We found that two specific microRNAs expressed from the same genetic locus, miR-143 and miR-145, were over-expressed in our invasive subpopulations. Further, we also found that combinatorial treatment of these cells with both antisense-miRNAs (antimiR-143 and -145) will abrogated their invasion without decreasing cell attachment or proliferation.
To best of our knowledge, these data demonstrate for the first time that miR-143 and miR-145 regulate the invasion of glioblastoma and that miR-143 and -145 could be potential therapeutic target for anti-invasion therapies of glioblastoma patients.
PMCID: PMC3378456  PMID: 22490015
Glioblastoma; MicroRNA-143; MicroRNA-145; Invasion
15.  MicroRNA-92 regulates cervical tumorigenesis and its expression is upregulated by human papillomavirus-16 E6 in cervical cancer cells 
Oncology Letters  2013;6(2):468-474.
MicroRNA (miR)-92 is overexpressed in a number of tumors and has been proven to negatively regulate a number of tumor suppressor genes, including phosphatase and tensin homologue (PTEN). However, its function and molecular mechanism(s) of action in squamous cervical carcinoma (SCCs) have not been well described. Furthermore, the correlation between miR-92 and human papillomavirus (HPV)-16 E6 has not been studied. In the present study, miR-92 expression levels were quantified using quantitative PCR (qPCR) in cervical cancer tissues, normal cervical tissues and cervical cancer cell lines. SiHa cells were transfected with either miR-92-mimics, anti-miR-92 or negative controls. C33A cells were stably transfected with pEGFP-N1-16E6 and pEGFP-N1-neo plasmids. The levels of PTEN protein expression in the transfected SiHa and C33A cells were evaluated using western blot analysis. The effects of miR-92 were detected using cell counting kit (CCK)-8 and Transwell assays. HPV16 E6 siRNA was used to detect the effectiveness of the E6 protein on miR-92 in the SiHa and C33A cells. miR-92 was highly-expressed in the human cervical cancer tissues compared with the normal tissues. In the HPV16-positive cervical cancer tissues, the expression of miR-92 was higher compared with the HPV16-negative cervical cancer tissues. HPV16 E6 upregulated miR-92 expression in the SiHa- and C33A-pEGFP-N1-16E6 cells. The upregulation of miR-92 promoted cell growth and invasion in the SiHa cells. PTEN protein expression was decreased in the SiHa cells that were transfected with the miR-92 mimic. The data indicated that miR-92 may increase the migration and invasion of SiHa cells, partially through the downregulation of PTEN protein expression. HPV16 E6 was identified to upregulate miR-92 expression.
PMCID: PMC3789088  PMID: 24137349
squamous cervical carcinoma; microRNA -92; phosphatase and tensin homologue; human papillomavirus-16 E6
16.  MicroRNAs expression signatures are associated with lineage and survival in acute leukemias 
Blood cells, molecules & diseases  2010;44(3):191-197.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small (~22 nucleotide) non-coding RNAs whose altered expression has been associated with various types of cancers, including leukemia. In the present study, we conducted a quantitative PCR (qPCR) analysis of expression of 23 human precursor miRNAs in bone marrow specimens of 85 Chinese primary leukemia patients, including 53 acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and 32 acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cases. We show that 16 miRNAs were differentially expressed between AMLs and ALLs; Of them, eight were previously reported (i.e., miR-23a, miR-27a/b, miR-128a, miR-128b, miR-221, miR-222, miR-223, and let-7b) and eight were newly identified (i.e., miR-17, miR-20a, miR-29a/c, miR-29b, miR-146a, miR-150, miR-155, and miR-196b). More importantly, through correlating miRNA expression signatures with outcome of patients, we further show that expression signatures of a group of miRNAs are associated with overall survival of patients. Of them, three (i.e., miR-146a, miR-181a/c, and miR-221), five (i.e., miR-25, miR-26a, miR-29b, miR-146a, and miR-196b), and three (i.e., miR-26a, miR-29b, and miR-146a) miRNAs are significantly associated with overall survival (P<0.05) of the 32 ALL, 53 AML, and 40 non-M3 AML patients, respectively. Particularly, the expression signature of miR-146a is significantly inversely correlated with overall survival of both ALL and AML patients. The prognostic significance of miR-146a in AML has been confirmed further in an independent study of 61 Chinese new AML patient samples. We also identified 622 putative target genes of miR-146a that are predicted by at least three out of the five major prediction programs (i.e., TragetScan, PicTar, miRanda, miRBase Targets, and PITA); Through gene ontology analysis, we found that these genes were particularly enriched (2–9 fold higher than expected by chance) in the GO categories of “negative regulation of biology processes”, “negative regulation of cellular processes”, “apoptosis”, and “cell cycle”, which may be related to the association of miR-146a with poor survival.
PMCID: PMC2829339  PMID: 20110180
microRNA; acute leukemia; lineage; survival analysis; miR-146a
17.  miR-638 mediated regulation of BRCA1 affects DNA repair and sensitivity to UV and cisplatin in triple-negative breast cancer 
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) represents 15 to 20% of all types of breast cancer; however, it accounts for a large number of metastatic cases and deaths, and there is still no effective treatment. The deregulation of microRNAs (miRNAs) in breast cancer has been widely reported. We previously identified that miR-638 was one of the most deregulated miRNAs in breast cancer progression. Bioinformatics analysis revealed that miR-638 directly targets BRCA1. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of miR-638 in breast cancer prognosis and treatment.
Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) breast cancer samples were microdissected into normal epithelial and invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) cells, and total RNA was isolated. Several breast cancer cell lines were used for the functional analysis. miR-638 target genes were identified by TARGETSCAN-VERT 6.2 and miRanda. The expression of miR-638 and its target genes was analyzed by real-time qRT-PCR and Western blotting. Dual-luciferase reporter assay was employed to confirm the specificity of miR-638 target genes. The biological function of miR-638 was analyzed by MTT chemosensitivity, matrigel invasion and host cell reactivation assays.
The expression of miR-638 was decreased in IDC tissue samples compared to their adjacent normal controls. The decreased miR-638 expression was more prevalent in non-TNBC compared with TNBC cases. miR-638 expression was significantly downregulated in breast cancer cell lines compared to the immortalized MCF-10A epithelial cells. BRCA1 was predicted as one of the direct targets of miR-638, which was subsequently confirmed by dual-luciferase reporter assay. Forced expression of miR-638 resulted in a significantly reduced proliferation rate as well as decreased invasive ability in TNBC cells. Furthermore, miR-638 overexpression increased sensitivity to DNA-damaging agents, ultraviolet (UV) and cisplatin, but not to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and epirubicin exposure in TNBC cells. Host cell reactivation assays showed that miR-638 reduced DNA repair capability in post UV/cisplatin-exposed TNBC cells. The reduced proliferation, invasive ability, and DNA repair capabilities are associated with downregulated BRCA1 expression.
Our findings suggest that miR-638 plays an important role in TNBC progression via BRCA1 deregulation. Therefore, miR-638 might serve as a potential prognostic biomarker and therapeutic target for breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC4303116  PMID: 25228385
18.  MiR-138 induces cell cycle arrest by targeting cyclin D3 in hepatocellular carcinoma 
Carcinogenesis  2012;33(5):1113-1120.
The deregulation of microRNA (miRNA) is frequently associated with a variety of cancers, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In this study, we identified 10 upregulated miRNAs (miR-217, miR-518b, miR-517c, miR-520g, miR-519a, miR-522, miR-518e, miR-525-3p, miR-512-3p and miR-518a-3p) and 10 downregulated miRNAs (miR-138, miR-214, miR-214#, miR-27a#, miR-199a-5p, miR-433, miR-511, miR-592, miR-483-5p and miR-483-3p) by Taqman miRNAs array and quantitative real-time PCR (qRT–PCR) confirmation. Additionally, we investigated the expression and possible role of miR-138 in HCC. qRT–PCR results showed that miR-138 was downregulated in 77.8%(14/18) of HCC tissues compared with adjacent non-tumor tissues. Overexpression of miR-138 reduced cell viability and colony formation by induction of cell arrest in HCC cell lines and inhibited tumor cell growth in xenograft nude mice. The use of miR-138 inhibitor increased cell viability and colony formation in HCC cell lines and tumor cell growth in xenograft nude mice. Using TargetScan predictions, CCND3 was defined as a potential direct target of miR-138. Furthermore, CCND3 protein expression was observed to be negatively correlated with miR-138 expression in HCC tissues. The dual-luciferase reporter gene assay results showed that CCND3 was a direct target of miR-138. The use of miR-138 mimic or inhibitor could decrease or increase CCND3 protein levels in HCC cell lines. We conclude that the frequently downregulated miR-138 can regulate CCND3 and function as a tumor suppressor in HCC. Therefore, miR-138 may serve as a useful therapeutic agent for miRNA-based HCC therapy.
PMCID: PMC3334515  PMID: 22362728
19.  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
20.  MicroRNA-21 induces resistance to the anti-tumour effect of interferon-α/5-fluorouracil in hepatocellular carcinoma cells 
British Journal of Cancer  2010;103(10):1617-1626.
We reported recently the clinical efficiency of interferon (IFN)-α/5-fluorouracil (5-FU) combination therapy in advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, prediction of the response to the combination therapy remains unsatisfactory. The aim of this study was to investigate the anti-tumour effects of microRNA (miR)-21 on the sensitivity of HCC cells to IFN-α/5-FU and whether miR-21 can be used as a predictor of the response to such therapy in HCC.
Changes in the sensitivity of HCC cells (PLC/PRF/5 and HepG2) to IFN-α/5-FU were examined after transfection with pre-miR-21 or anti-miR-21. The correlation between miR-21 expression level, evaluated by qRT–PCR, and response to the therapy was also investigated in clinical HCC specimens.
Hepatocellular carcinoma cells transfected with pre-miR-21 were significantly resistant to IFN-α/5-FU. Annexin V assay showed that the percentage of apoptotic cells was significantly lower in cells transfected with pre-miR-21 than control cells. Transfection of anti-miR-21 rendered HCC cells sensitive to IFN-α/5-FU, and such sensitivity was weakened by transfection of siRNAs of target molecules, PETN and PDCD4. miR-21 expression in clinical HCC specimens was significantly associated with the clinical response to the IFN-α/5-FU combination therapy and survival rate.
The miR-21 in HCC cell lines and clinical HCC samples is a significant modulator of the anti-tumour effect of IFN-α and 5-FU. This suggests that miR-21 is a potentially suitable marker for the prediction of the clinical response to the IFN-α/5-FU combination therapy.
PMCID: PMC2990590  PMID: 20978511
hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); interferon-α (IFN-α); 5-fluorouracil (5-FU); miR-21; phosphatase and tensin homologue (PTEN); programmed cell death 4 (PDCD4)
21.  Non-coding MicroRNAs hsa-let-7g and hsa-miR-181b are Associated with Chemoresponse to S-1 in Colon Cancer 
Cancer genomics & proteomics  2006;3(5):317-324.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs (~22 nucleotides) that regulate gene expression at a post-transcriptional level via imperfect base pairing to the 3’-UTR of their target mRNAs. Previous studies from our group identified a number of deregulated miRNAs due to the loss of p53 tumor suppressor in colon cancer cell lines. To further investigate the in vivo biological significance of these miRNAs, the expressions of hsa-let-7g, hsa-miR-143, hsa-miR-145, hsa-miR-181b and hsa-miR-200c were investigated using formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) colon cancer specimens to evaluate the potential relationship with chemosensitivity and tumorigenesis.
Patients and Methods
Forty-six patients with recurrent or residual colon cancer lesions were treated with the 5-fluorouracil-based antimetabolite S-1. This includes twenty-one pairs of tumor and normal samples. Total RNAs were isolated and the expression level of each particular miRNA was quantified using real time qRT-PCR analysis.
The expression levels of hsa-let-7g, hsa-miR-181b and hsa-miR-200c were over-expressed in tumor tissues compared to normal tissues. The expression levels of hsa-let-7g (p=0.03; Mann-Whitney test) and hsa-miR-181b (p=0.02; Mann-Whitney test) were strongly associated with clinical response to S-1. Although hsa-let-7g and hsa-miR-181b are strongly associated with patient’s response to S-1 treatment, they are not significant prognostic factors for predicting survival.
hsa-let-7g, hsa-miR-181b and hsa-miR-200c may be associated with tumorigenesis in colon cancer. In addition, hsa-let-7g and hsa-miR-181b may be potential indicators for chemoresponse to S-1 based chemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC2170889  PMID: 18172508
miRNA; colon cancer; S-1
22.  Epigenetic inactivation of the MIR129-2 in hematological malignancies 
MIR129-2 has been shown to be a tumor suppressor microRNA hypermethylated in epithelial cancers.
Patients and methods
Epigenetic inactivation of MIR129-2 was studied by methylation-specific PCR (MSP) in 13 cell lines (eight myeloma and five lymphoma), 15 normal controls and 344 primary samples including acute myeloid leukemia (AML), acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), multiple myeloma (MM) at diagnosis, MM at relapse/progression, and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). Expression of MIR129 and its target, SOX4, in cell lines was measured before and after hypomethylating treatment and MIR129 overexpression. MIR129 expression was correlated with MIR129-2 methylation status in primary lymphoma samples. Tumor suppressor function of MIR129 was demonstrated by MTT and trypan blue exclusion assay after MIR129 overexpression.
The sensitivity of the methylated-MSP was one in 103. Different MSP statuses, including complete methylation, partial methylation, and complete unmethylation, were verified by quantitative bisulfite pyrosequencing. All five lymphoma and seven of eight myeloma cell lines showed complete and partial MIR129-2 methylation. In primary samples, MIR129-2 methylation was absent in AML and CML, but detected in 5% ALL, 45.9% CLL, 49.5% MM at diagnosis, and 59.1% NHL. In CLL, MIR129-2 methylation adversely impacted on survival (p=0.004). In MM, MIR129-2 methylation increased from 27.5% MGUS to 49.5% MM at diagnosis and 41.5% at relapse/progression (p=0.023). In NHL, MIR129-2 methylation was associated with MIR124-1 and MIR203 methylation (p<0.001), and lower MIR129 expression (p=0.009). Hypomethylation treatment of JEKO-1, homozygously methylated for MIR129-2, led to MIR129-2 demethylation and MIR129 re-expression, with downregulation of SOX4 mRNA. Moreover, MIR129 overexpression in both mantle cell lines, JEKO-1 and GRANTA-519, inhibited cellular proliferation and enhanced cell death, with concomitant SOX4 mRNA downregulation.
MIR129-2 is a tumor suppressive microRNA frequently methylated in lymphoid but not myeloid malignancies, leading to reversible MIR129-2 silencing. In CLL, MIR129-2 methylation was associated with an inferior survival. In MM, MIR129-2 methylation might be acquired during progression from MGUS to symptomatic MM. In NHL, MIR129-2 methylation might collaborate with MIR124-1 and MIR203 methylation in lymphomagenesis.
PMCID: PMC3576298  PMID: 23406679
microRNA; Tumor suppressor; Hypermethylation; MIR129; Hematological cancers
23.  Low expression levels of microRNA-124-5p correlated with poor prognosis in colorectal cancer via targeting of SMC4 
Cancer Medicine  2014;3(6):1544-1552.
A component of polycomb repressor complex 2, enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2), plays an important role in tumor malignancy and metastasis, while milk fat globule-epidermal growth factor-factor 8 (MFGE8) plays a key role in tumor progression and prognosis. MicroRNAs (miRs) are also critically involved in various physiological and pathological processes. We here evaluated the relationship between overall survival (OS) in colorectal cancer patients and the expression of onco-miRs and miRs, which may target EZH2 and MFGE8. Plasma and formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) samples were obtained from 71 colorectal cancer patients. The expression levels of miRs complementary to EZH2 and MFGE8 mRNA and cancer malignancies were evaluated. The miRs analyzed were as follows: miR-16, miR-21, miR-26a, miR-34a, miR-98, miR-101-3p, miR-101-5p, miR-124-5p (also known as miR-124*), miR-126-3p, miR-126-5p, miR-210, miR-217, and miR-630. The plasma expression levels of MFGE8 in completely resected patients were significantly lower than those in unresectable patients. Lower miR-26a expression levels were correlated with a higher probability of OS. Higher miR-124-5p expression levels in plasma and FFPE samples were correlated with a higher probability of OS. The transfection of mimic miR-124-5p into WiDr and COLO201 cells inhibited the expression of structural maintenance of chromosomes 4 (SMC4) mRNA. Our results indicate that miR-124-5p may target the tumorigenesis gene, SMC4, which suggests that expression levels of miR-124-5p in plasma and FFPE samples; therefore, the expression of MFGE8, miR-26a, and miR-124-5p in plasma may be used as biomarkers to determine the prognosis of colorectal cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC4298381  PMID: 25081869
Colorectal cancer; EZH2; MFGE8; miR-124-5p; miR-26a; SMC4
24.  Loss of miR-638 in vitro promotes cell invasion and a mesenchymal-like transition by influencing SOX2 expression in colorectal carcinoma cells 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:118.
Colorectal carcinoma (CRC) is a major cause of cancer mortality. The aberrant expression of several microRNAs is associated with CRC progression; however, the molecular mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are unclear.
miR-638 and SRY-box 2 (SOX2) expression levels were detected in 36 tumor samples and their adjacent, non-tumor tissues from patients with CRC, as well as in 4 CRC cell lines, using real-time quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR). SOX2 expression levels were detected in 90 tumor samples and their adjacent tissue using immunohistochemistry. Luciferase reporter and Western blot assays were used to validate SOX2 as a target gene of miR-638. The regulation of SOX2 expression by miR-638 was assessed using qRT-PCR and Western blot assays, and the effects of exogenous miR-638 and SOX2 on cell invasion and migration were evaluated in vitro using the HCT-116 and SW1116 CRC cell lines.
We found that miR-638 expression was differentially impaired in CRC specimens and dependent on tumor grade. The inhibition of miR-638 by an antagomiR promoted cell invasion and a mesenchymal-like transition (lamellipodium stretching increased and cell-cell contacts decreased, which was accompanied by the suppression of the epithelial cell marker ZO-1/E-cadherin and the upregulation of the mesenchymal cell marker vimentin). A reporter assay revealed that miR-638 repressed the luciferase activity of a reporter gene coupled to the 3′-untranslated region of SOX2. miR-638 overexpression downregulated SOX2 expression, and miR-638 inhibition upregulated SOX2 expression. Moreover, miR-638 expression levels were correlated inversely with SOX2 mRNA levels in human CRC tissues. The RNAi-mediated knockdown of SOX2 phenocopied the invasion-inhibiting effect of miR-638; furthermore, SOX2 overexpression blocked the miR-638-induced CRC cell transition to epithelial-like cells.
These results demonstrate that the loss of miR-638 promotes invasion and a mesenchymal-like transition by directly targeting SOX2 in vitro. These findings define miR-638 as a new, invasion-associated tumor suppressor of CRC.
PMCID: PMC4039649  PMID: 24885288
miR-638; SOX2; CRC; Invasion
25.  Tumor suppressive microRNA-1285 regulates novel molecular targets: Aberrant expression and functional significance in renal cell carcinoma 
Oncotarget  2012;3(1):44-57.
MicroRNAs (miRNA) are non-coding RNAs, approximately 22 nucleotides in length, which function as post-transcriptional regulators. A large body of evidence indicates that miRNAs regulate the expression of cancer-related genes involved in proliferation, migration, invasion, and metastasis. The aim of this study was to identify novel cancer networks in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) based on miRNA expression signatures obtained from RCC clinical specimens. Expression signatures revealed that 103 miRNAs were significantly downregulated (< 0.5-fold change) in RCC specimens. Functional screening (cell proliferation assays) was performed to identify tumor suppressive activities of 20 downregulated miRNAs. Restoration of mature miRNAs in cancer cells showed that 14 miRNAs (miR-1285, miR-206, miR-1, miR-135a, miR-429, miR-200c, miR-1291, miR-133b, miR-508-3p, miR-360-3p, miR-509-5p, miR-218, miR-335, miR-1255b and miR-1285) markedly inhibited cancer cell proliferation, suggesting that these miRNAs were candidate tumor suppressive miRNAs in RCC. We focused on miR-1285 because it significantly inhibited cancer cell proliferation, invasion, and migration following its transfection. We addressed miR-1285-regulated cancer networks by using genome-wide gene expression analysis and bioinformatics. The data showed that transglutaminase 2 (TGM2) was directly regulated by miR-1285. Silencing of the target gene demonstrated significant inhibition of cell proliferation and invasion in the RCC cells. Furthermore, immunohistochemistry showed that TGM2 expression levels in RCC specimens were significantly higher than those in normal renal tissues. Downregulation of tumor suppressive miR-1285, which targets oncogenic genes including TGM2, might contribute to RCC development. Thus, miR-1285 modulates a novel molecular target and provides new insights into potential mechanisms of RCC oncogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3292891  PMID: 22294552
microRNA; expression signature; miR-1285; tumor suppressor; renal cell carcinoma; transglutaminase 2

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