Transdifferentiation, where differentiated cells are reprogrammed into another lineage without going through an intermediate proliferative stem cell-like stage, is the next frontier of regenerative medicine. Wernig et al. first described the direct conversion of fibroblasts into functional induced neuronal cells (iNs). Subsequent reports of transdifferentiation into clinically relevant neuronal subtypes have further endorsed the prospect of autologous cell therapy for neurodegenerative disorders. So far, all published neuronal transdifferentiation protocols rely on lentiviruses, which likely precludes their clinical translation. Instead, we delivered plasmids encoding neuronal transcription factors (Brn2, Ascl1, Myt1l) to primary mouse embryonic fibroblasts with a bioreducible linear poly(amido amine). The low toxicity and high transfection efficiency of this gene carrier allowed repeated dosing to sustain high transgene expression levels. Serial 0.5 µg cm−2 doses of reprogramming factors delivered at 48-hour intervals produced up to 7.6% Tuj1+ (neuron-specific class III β-tubulin) cells, a subset of which expressed MAP2 (microtubule-associated protein 2), tau, and synaptophysin. A synapsin-red fluorescent protein (RFP) reporter helped to identify more mature, electrophysiologically active cells, with 24/26 patch-clamped RFP+ cells firing action potentials. Some non-virally induced neuronal cells (NiNs) were observed firing multiple and spontaneous action potentials. This study demonstrates the feasibility of nonviral neuronal transdifferentiation, and may be amenable to other transdifferentiation processes.
Embryonic stem cells (ESC) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) are characterized by their ability to self renew and differentiate into any cell type. The molecular mechanism behind this process is a complex interplay between the transcriptional factors with epigenetic regulators and signaling pathways. MicroRNAs are an integral part of this regulatory network with essential roles in pluripotent maintenance, proliferation and differentiation. MicroRNAs are a class of small non-coding RNAs that target protein-encoding mRNA to inhibit translation and protein synthesis. Discovered close to two decades ago, microRNAs have rapidly emerged as key regulatory molecules in several critical cellular processes across species. Recent studies have begun to clarify the specific role of microRNA in regulatory circuitries that control self renewal and pluripotency of both ESC and iPSC. These advances suggest a critical role for microRNAs in the process of reprogramming of somatic cells to pluripotent cells.
microRNA; epigenetics; embryonic stem cells; induced pluripotent stem cells; Review
MicroRNAs are believed to play an important role in gene expression regulation. They have been shown to be involved in cell cycle regulation and cancer. MicroRNA expression profiling became available owing to recent technology advancement. In some studies, both microRNA expression and mRNA expression are measured, which allows an integrated analysis of microRNA and mRNA expression.
We demonstrated three aspects of an integrated analysis of microRNA and mRNA expression, through a case study of human cancer data. We showed that (1) microRNA expression efficiently sorts tumors from normal tissues regardless of tumor type, while gene expression does not; (2) many microRNAs are down-regulated in tumors and these microRNAs can be clustered in two ways: microRNAs similarly affected by cancer and microRNAs similarly interacting with genes; (3) taking let-7f as an example, targets genes can be identified and they can be clustered based on their relationship with let-7f expression.
Our findings in this paper were made using novel applications of existing statistical methods: hierarchical clustering was applied with a new distance measure—the co-clustering frequency—to identify sample clusters that are stable; microRNA-gene correlation profiles were subject to hierarchical clustering to identify microRNAs that similarly interact with genes and hence are likely functionally related; the clustering of regression models method was applied to identify microRNAs similarly related to cancer while adjusting for tissue type and genes similarly related to microRNA while adjusting for disease status. These analytic methods are applicable to interrogate multiple types of -omics data in general.
clustering; expression; microarray; microRNA
MicroRNAs play a pivotal role in cellular maintenance, proliferation, and differentiation. They have also been implicated to play a key role in disease pathogenesis, and more recently, cellular reprogramming. Certain microRNA clusters can enhance or even directly induce reprogramming, while repressing key proteins involved in microRNA processing decreases reprogramming efficiency. Although microRNAs clearly play important roles in cellular reprogramming, it remains unknown whether microRNAs are absolutely necessary. We endeavored to answer this fundamental question by attempting to reprogram Dicer-null mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) that lack almost all functional microRNAs using a defined set of transcription factors. Transduction of reprogramming factors using either lentiviral or piggyBac transposon vector into two, independently derived lines of Dicer-null MEFs failed to produce cells resembling embryonic stem cells (ESCs). However, expression of human Dicer in the Dicer-null MEFs restored their reprogramming potential. Our study demonstrates for the first time that microRNAs are indispensable for dedifferentiation reprogramming.
MicroRNAs are members of the non-protein-coding family of RNAs. They serve as regulators of gene expression by modulating the translation and/or stability of messenger RNA targets. The discovery of microRNAs has revolutionized the field of cell biology, and has permanently altered the prevailing view of a linear relationship between gene and protein expression. The increased complexity of gene regulation is both exciting and daunting, as emerging evidence supports a pervasive role for microRNAs in virtually every cellular process. This review briefly describes microRNA processing and formation of RNA-induced silencing complexes, with a focus on the role of RNA binding proteins in this process. We also discuss mechanisms for microRNA-mediated regulation of translation, particularly in dendritic spine formation and function, and the role of microRNAs in synaptic plasticity. We then discuss the evidence for altered microRNA function in cognitive brain disorders, and the effect of gene mutations revealed by single nucleotide polymorphism analysis on altered microRNA function and human disease. Further, we present evidence that altered microRNA expression in circulating fluids such as plasma/serum can correlate with, and serve as, novel diagnostic biomarkers of human disease.
MicroRNA; 3′ untranslated region; brain disorders; dendrite; diagnostic marker; eukaryotic initiation factor; fragile X mental retardation protein; human disease; mRNA stability; plasticity; RNA binding protein; RNA-induced silencing complex; single nucleotide polymorphism; translation
Lung cancer is the major cause of cancer death globally, it is often diagnosed at an advanced stage and has one of the lowest survival rates of any type of cancer. The common interest in the field of lung cancer research is the identification of biomarkers for early diagnosis and accurate prognosis. There is increasing evidence to suggest that microRNAs play important and complex roles in lung cancer.
A meta-analysis was conducted to review the published microRNA expression profiling studies that compared the microRNAs expression profiles in lung cancer tissues with those in normal lung tissues. A vote-counting strategy that considers the total number of studies reporting its differential expression, the total number of tissue samples used in the studies and the average fold change was employed.
A total of 184 differentially expressed microRNAs were reported in the fourteen microRNA expression profiling studies that compared lung cancer tissues with normal tissues, with 61 microRNAs were reported in at least two studies. In the panel of consistently reported up-regulated microRNAs, miR-210 was reported in nine studies and miR-21 was reported in seven studies. In the consistently reported down-regulated microRNAs, miR-126 was reported in ten studies and miR-30a was reported in eight studies. Four up-regulated microRNAs (miR-210, miR-21, miR-31 and miR-182) and two down-regulated mcroiRNAs (miR-126 and miR-145) were consistently reported both in squamous carcinoma and adenocarcinoma-based subgroup analysis, with the other 14 microRNAs solely reported in one or the other subset.
In conclusion, the top two most consistently reported up-regulated microRNAs were miR-210 and miR-21. The results of this meta-analysis of human lung cancer microRNA expression profiling studies might provide some clues of the potential biomarkers in lung cancer. Further mechanistic and external validation studies are needed for their clinical significance and role in the development of lung cancer.
MicroRNAs; Profiling; Lung cancer; Meta-analysis
In response to small molecule signals such as retinoids or steroids, nuclear receptors activate gene expression to regulate development in different tissues. microRNAs turn off target gene expression within cells by binding complementary regions in mRNA transcripts, and they have been broadly implicated in development and disease. Here we show that the C. elegans nuclear receptor DAF-12 and its steroidal ligand directly activate promoters of let-7 microRNA family members to downregulate the microRNA target hbl-1 and drive progression of epidermal stem cells from second to third larval stage patterns of cell division. Conversely, the unliganded receptor represses microRNA expression during developmental arrest. These findings identify microRNAs as components of a hormone-coupled molecular switch that shuts off earlier developmental programs to allow for later ones.
Cell transdifferentiation is characterized by loss of some phenotypes along with acquisition of new phenotypes in differentiated cells. The differentiated state of a given cell is not irreversible. It depends on the up- and downregulation exerted by specific molecules.
We report here that HCCR-1, previously shown to play an oncogenic role in human cancers, induces epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET) in human and mouse, respectively. The stem cell factor receptor CD117/c-Kit was induced in this transdifferentiated (EMT) sarcoma tissues. This MET occurring in HCCR-1 transfected cells is reminiscent of the transdifferentiation process during nephrogenesis. Indeed, expression of HCCR-1 was observed during the embryonic development of the kidney. This suggests that HCCR-1 might be involved in the transdifferentiation process of cancer stem cell.
Therefore, we propose that HCCR-1 may be a regulatory factor that stimulates morphogenesis of epithelia or mesenchyme during neoplastic transformation.
MicroRNAs are a class of small RNA regulators that are involved in numerous cellular processes, including development, proliferation, differentiation, and plasticity. The emerging concept is that microRNAs play a central role in controlling the balance between stem cell self-renewal and fate-determination by regulating the expression of stem cell regulators. This review will highlight recent advances in the regulation of neural stem cell self-renewal and neurogenesis by microRNAs. It will cover microRNA functions during the entire process of neurogenesis, from neural stem cell self-renewal and fate-determination to neuronal maturation, synaptic formation, and plasticity. The interplay between microRNAs and both cell-intrinsic and extrinsic stem cell players, including transcription factors, epigenetic regulators, and extrinsic signaling molecules will be discussed. This is a summary of the topics covered in the mini-symposium on microRNA regulation of neural stem cells and neurogenesis in SFN 2010 and is not meant to be a comprehensive review of the subject.
Endogenously produced microRNAs are predicted to regulate the translation of over two-thirds all human gene transcripts. Certain microRNAs regulate expression of genes that are critically involved in both innate and adaptive immune responses. Immune cells represent a highly attractive target for microRNA gene therapy approaches, as these cells can be isolated, treated and then reintroduced into the patient. In this short review, we discuss how recent discoveries on the roles of microRNAs in immune-regulation will advance the field of cancer immunology and immunotherapy. Targets identified already in T cells include microRNAs, miR-17-92 family, miR-155, and miR-181a. In macrophages, miR-125b, miR-146, and miR-155 act as Pathogen Associated Molecular Pattern Molecule-associated microRNAs and miR-34C and miR-214 as Damage Associated Molecular Pattern Molecules-associated miRs. We have also demonstrated that the ability of tumors to serve as targets for cytolytic effectors is regulated by miR-222 and miR-339.
microRNA; Type-1 helper (Th1); cancer; cancer immunology; high-mobility group box (HMGB)1
MicroRNAs have emerged as important regulators of cell proliferation, development, cancer formation, stress responses, cell death, and other physiological conditions in the past decade. On the other hand, head and neck cancer is one of the top ten most common cancers worldwide. Recent advances in microRNAs have revealed their prominent role in regulating gene expression and provided new aspects of applications in diagnosis, prognosis, and therapeutic strategies in head and neck squamous carcinoma. In the present paper, we focus on microRNAs showing significant differences between normal and tumor cells or between cells with differential ability of metastasis. We also emphasize specific microRNAs that could modulate tumor cell properties, such as apoptosis, metastasis, and proliferation. These microRNAs possess the potential to be applied on clinical therapy in the future.
Tumour stromal myofibroblasts can promote tumour invasion. As these cells are genetically more stable than cancer cells, there has been enormous interest in developing targeted molecular therapies against them. Chloride intracellular channel 4 (CLIC4) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been linked with promoting stromal cell transdifferentiation in various cancers, but little is known of their roles in ovarian cancer. In this study, we examined the functional roles that both CLIC4 and ROS play in the process of ovarian cancer cell-stimulated or TGF-β1 induced fibroblast-to-myofibroblast transdifferentiation. We also examine whether it is possible to reverse such a process, with the aim of developing novel therapies against ovarian cancer by targeting activated transdifferentiated myofibroblasts.
We demonstrate that TGF-β1 induced or CMSKOV3 activate transdifferentiated myofibroblasts (fibroblasts). These fibroblasts mimic "reactive" stromal myofibroblasts and demonstrate significant up-regulation of CLIC4 expression and increased level of ROS production. Blocking the production of ROS with an antioxidant consequently reduces the expression of CLIC4, and is accompanied by disappearance of α-smooth-muscle actin (α-SMA), a myofibroblast marker, suggesting ROS acts as a signalling molecule that promotes and enhances CLIC4 activities in the myofibroblast transdifferentiaton process. Down-regulation of CLIC4 with a generic agent or specific siRNA both significantly reduces the expression of factors related to the phenotypes and functions of myofibroblasts, such as α-SMA, hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), thus reversing the myofibroblast phenotype back to fibroblasts. These results convincingly show that ROS and CLIC4 are responsible for TGF-β1 induced fibroblast-to-myofibroblast transdifferentiaton and down-regulation of both is sufficient to block transdifferentiated myofibroblasts.
Molecular targeting of ROS and CLIC4 has the potential to develop novel therapies for ovarian cancer.
Activity-dependent changes in gene-expression are believed to underlie the molecular representation of memory. In this study, we report that in vivo activation of neurons rapidly induces the CREB-regulated microRNA miR-132. To determine if production of miR-132 is regulated by neuronal activity its expression in mouse brain was monitored by quantitative RT-PCR (RT-qPCR). Pilocarpine-induced seizures led to a robust, rapid, and transient increase in the primary transcript of miR-132 (pri-miR-132) followed by a subsequent rise in mature microRNA (miR-132). Activation of neurons in the hippocampus, olfactory bulb, and striatum by contextual fear conditioning, odor-exposure, and cocaine-injection, respectively, also increased pri-miR-132. Induction kinetics of pri-miR-132 were monitored and found to parallel those of immediate early genes, peaking at 45 minutes and returning to basal levels within two hours of stimulation. Expression levels of primary and mature-miR-132 increased significantly between postnatal days 10 and 24. We conclude that miR-132 is an activity-dependent microRNA in vivo, and may contribute to the long-lasting proteomic changes required for experience-dependent neuronal plasticity.
MicroRNA; CREB; Plasticity; Experience-dependent; Immediate-early; mir-132
A microarray technology suitable for analyzing the expression of microRNAs and of other small RNAs was used to determine the microRNA expression profile during mouse-brain development and observed a temporal wave of gene expression of sequential classes of microRNAs.
MicroRNAs are a large new class of tiny regulatory RNAs found in nematodes, plants, insects and mammals. MicroRNAs are thought to act as post-transcriptional modulators of gene expression. In invertebrates microRNAs have been implicated as regulators of developmental timing, neuronal differentiation, cell proliferation, programmed cell death and fat metabolism. Little is known about the roles of microRNAs in mammals.
We isolated 18-26 nucleotide RNAs from developing rat and monkey brains. From the sequences of these RNAs and the sequences of the rat and human genomes we determined which of these small RNAs are likely to have derived from stem-loop precursors typical of microRNAs. Next, we developed a microarray technology suitable for detecting microRNAs and printed a microRNA microarray representing 138 mammalian microRNAs corresponding to the sequences of the microRNAs we cloned as well as to other known microRNAs. We used this microarray to determine the profile of microRNAs expressed in the developing mouse brain. We observed a temporal wave of expression of microRNAs, suggesting that microRNAs play important roles in the development of the mammalian brain.
We describe a microarray technology that can be used to analyze the expression of microRNAs and of other small RNAs. MicroRNA microarrays offer a new tool that should facilitate studies of the biological roles of microRNAs. We used this method to determine the microRNA expression profile during mouse brain development and observed a temporal wave of gene expression of sequential classes of microRNAs.
MicroRNAs are tiny non-coding RNA molecules which play important roles in the epigenetic control of cellular processes by preventing the translation of proteins from messenger RNAs (mRNAs). A single microRNA can target different mRNAs, and an mRNA can be targeted by multiple microRNAs. Such complex interplays underlie many molecular pathways in cells, and specific roles for many microRNAs in physiological as well as pathological phenomena have been identified. Changes in expression of microRNAs have been associated with a wide variety of disease conditions, and microRNA-based biomarkers are being developed for the identification and monitoring of such states. This review provides a general overview of the current state of knowledge about the biology of microRNAs, and specific information about microRNAs with regard to the diagnosis and prognosis of lung cancer.
Carcinogenesis; gene expression; microRNA; lung cancer
Playing a central role in the maintenance of hemostasis as well as in thrombotic disorders, platelets contain a relatively diverse messenger RNA (mRNA) transcriptome as well as functional mRNA-regulatory microRNAs, suggesting that platelet mRNAs may be regulated by microRNAs. Here, we elucidated the complete repertoire and features of human platelet microRNAs by high-throughput sequencing. More than 492 different mature microRNAs were detected in human platelets, whereas the list of known human microRNAs was expanded further by the discovery of 40 novel microRNA sequences. As in nucleated cells, platelet microRNAs bear signs of post-transcriptional modifications, mainly terminal adenylation and uridylation. In vitro enzymatic assays demonstrated the ability of human platelets to uridylate microRNAs, which correlated with the presence of the uridyltransferase enzyme TUT4. We also detected numerous microRNA isoforms (isomiRs) resulting from imprecise Drosha and/or Dicer processing, in some cases more frequently than the reference microRNA sequence, including 5′ shifted isomiRs with redirected mRNA targeting abilities. This study unveils the existence of a relatively diverse and complex microRNA repertoire in human platelets, and represents a mandatory step towards elucidating the intraplatelet and extraplatelet role, function and importance of platelet microRNAs.
Here we describe an episomal, one-vector system which allows the generation of cell populations displaying homogenous, inducible gene inactivation by RNA interference in a one step procedure. A dual tet-repressor/activator system tightly controls a bi-directional promoter, which simultaneously drives expression of microRNAs and a fluorescent marker protein. We demonstrate the effectiveness of this vector by knockdown of p53 expression in a human cell line which resulted in the expected loss of G1-arrest after DNA damage. The generation of a cell pool homogenously expressing the ectopic microRNAs was achieved in 1 week without the need for viral infections. Induction of microRNA expression did not elicit an interferon response. Furthermore, the vector was adapted for convenient ligation-free transfer of microRNA cassettes from public libraries. This conditional knockdown-system should prove useful for many research and gene therapeutic applications.
Interindividual variations of microRNA expression are likely to influence the expression of microRNA target genes and, therefore, contribute to phenotypic differences in humans, including cancer susceptibility. Whether microRNA expression variation has any role in ovarian cancer development is still unknown. Here, we evaluated microRNA expression profiles in lymphoblastoid cell lines from 74 women with familial ovarian cancer and 47 unrelated controls matched on gender and race. We found that the cases and unrelated controls can be clustered using 95 differentially expressed microRNAs with 91% accuracy. To assess the potential implications of microRNAs in ovarian cancer, we investigated the associations between microRNA expression and seven ovarian cancer risk variants discovered from genome-wide association studies (GWAS), namely, rs3814113 on 9p22.2, rs2072590 on 2q31, rs2665390 on 3q25, rs10088218, rs1516982, rs10098821 on 8q24.21 and rs2363956 on 19p13. We observed 130 significant associations at a permutation level of 0.01. Compared with other risk variants, rs3814113 and rs2072590 had the greatest number of significant associations (68 and 37, respectively). Interestingly, 14 microRNAs that were associated with ovarian cancer risk alleles belong to five microRNA clusters. The most notable cluster is the tumorigenic miR-17-92 cluster with five microRNAs, all of which are significantly associated with rs3814113. Using pathway analysis, several key biological pathways were significantly overrepresented, such as cellular response to stress (P = 2.87 × 10−06), etc. Further characterization of significant associations between microRNAs and risk alleles could facilitate the understanding of the functions of these GWAS discovered risk alleles in the genetic etiology of ovarian cancer.
Early studies have shown how aberrantly expressed microRNAs are a hallmark of several diseases like cancer. MicroRNA expression profiling was shown to be associated with tumour development, progression and response to therapy, suggesting their possible use as diagnostic, prognostic and predictive biomarkers. Moreover, based on the increasing number of studies demonstrating that microRNAs can function as potential oncogenes or oncosuppressor genes, with the goal to improve disease response and increase cure rates, miRNA-based anticancer therapies have recently been exploited, either alone or in combination with current targeted therapies. The advantage of using microRNA approaches is based on its ability to concurrently target multiple effectors of pathways involved in cell differentiation, proliferation and survival. Here, we review our current knowledge about the involvement of microRNAs in cancer, and their potential as diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic tools.
biomarkers; diagnostics; human cancer; microRNAs; therapeutic impact
Transcription factor-induced lineage reprogramming or transdifferentiation experiments are essential for understanding the plasticity of differentiated cells. These experiments helped to define the specific role of transcription factors in conferring cell identity and played a key role in the development of the regenerative medicine field. We here investigated the acquisition of DNA methylation changes during C/EBPα-induced pre-B cell to macrophage transdifferentiation. Unexpectedly, cell lineage conversion occurred without significant changes in DNA methylation not only in key B cell- and macrophage-specific genes but also throughout the entire set of genes differentially methylated between the two parental cell types. In contrast, active and repressive histone modification marks changed according to the expression levels of these genes. We also demonstrated that C/EBPα and RNA Pol II are associated with the methylated promoters of macrophage-specific genes in reprogrammed macrophages without inducing methylation changes. Our findings not only provide insights about the extent and hierarchy of epigenetic events in pre-B cell to macrophage transdifferentiation but also show an important difference to reprogramming towards pluripotency where promoter DNA demethylation plays a pivotal role.
mRNA expression profiling has suggested the existence of multiple glioblastoma subclasses, but their number and characteristics vary among studies and the etiology underlying their development is unclear. In this study, we analyzed 261 microRNA expression profiles from the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), identifying five clinically and genetically distinct subclasses of glioblastoma that each related to a different neural precursor cell type. These microRNA-based glioblastoma subclasses displayed microRNA and mRNA expression signatures resembling those of radial glia, oligoneuronal precursors, neuronal precursors, neuroepithelial/neural crest precursors or astrocyte precursors. Each subclass was determined to be genetically distinct, based on the significant differences they displayed in terms of patient race, age, treatment response and survival. We also identified several microRNAs as potent regulators of subclass-specific gene expression networks in glioblastoma. Foremost among these is miR-9, which suppresses mesenchymal differentiation in glioblastoma by downregulating expression of JAK kinases and inhibiting activation of STAT3. Our findings suggest that microRNAs are important determinants of glioblastoma subclasses through their ability to regulate developmental growth and differentiation programs in several transformed neural precursor cell types. Taken together, our results define developmental microRNA expression signatures that both characterize and contribute to the phenotypic diversity of glioblastoma subclasses, thereby providing an expanded framework for understanding the pathogenesis of glioblastoma in a human neurodevelopmental context.
MicroRNA; Microarray; Glioma; Tumor; Genome
TGF-β is a potent pleiotropic factor that promotes small intestinal cell differentiation. The role of microRNAs in the TGF-β induction of intestinal epithelial phenotype is largely unknown. We hypothesized that microRNAs are functionally involved in TGF-β-induced intestinal cell growth. In this study, TGF-β caused a morphological change of IEC-6 cells and stimulated expression of the epithelial cell markers alkaline phosphatase, villin, and aminopeptidase N. By global microRNA profiling during TGF-β-induced intestinal crypt cell (IEC-6) differentiation, we identified 19 differentially expressed microRNAs. We showed by real-time Q-PCR that miR-146b expression increased rapidly after TGF-β treatment; sequence analysis and in vitro assays revealed that miR-146b targets SIAH2, an E3 ubiquitin ligase, with decreased protein expression upon IEC-6 cell differentiation. Transfection of miR-146b inhibitor before TGF-β treatment blocked the down-regulation of SIAH2 in response to TGF-β. Moreover, SIAH2 over-expression during TGF-β treatment caused a significant decrease in Smad7 protein expression in IEC-6 cells. Furthermore, activation of the ERK1/2 pathway is active in the up-regulation of miR-146b by TGF-β. These findings suggest a novel mechanism whereby TGF-β signaling during IEC-6 cell differentiation may be modulated in part by microRNAs, and we propose a key role for miR-146b in the homeostasis of growth factor TGF-β signaling through a negative feedback regulation involving down-regulation of SIAH2 repressed Smad7 activities.
IEC-6 cell; TGF-β; Differentiation; miR-146b; microRNA array; SIAH2
Advances in the understanding of the epigenetic events underlying the regulation of developmental genes expression and cell lineage commitment are revealing novel regulatory networks. These also involve distinct components of the epigenetic pathways, including chromatin histone modification, DNA methylation, repression by polycomb complexes and microRNAs. Changes in chromatin structure, DNA methylation status and microRNA expression levels represent flexible, reversible and heritable mechanisms for the maintenance of stem cell states and cell fate decisions. We recently provided novel evidence showing that microRNAs, besides determining the post-transcriptional gene silencing of their targets, also bind to evolutionarily conserved complementary genomic seed-matches present on target gene promoters. At these sites, microRNAs can function as a critical interface between chromatin remodeling complexes and the genome for transcriptional gene silencing. Here, we discuss our novel findings supporting a role of the transcriptional chromatin targeting by polycomb-microRNA complexes in lineage fate determination of human hematopoietic cells.
microRNA; chromatin remodeling; Polycomb complexes; microRNA-DNA interaction; transcriptional gene silencing
MicroRNAs are a class of small regulatory RNAs that function to modulate protein expression. This control allows for fine-tuning of the cellular phenotype, including regulation of proliferation, cell signaling, and apoptosis; not surprisingly, microRNAs contribute to liver cancer biology. Recent investigations in human liver cancers and tumor-derived cell lines have demonstrated decreased or increased expression of particular microRNAs in hepatobiliary cancer cells. Based on predicted and validated protein targets as well as functional consequences of altered expression, microRNAs with decreased expression in liver tumor cells may normally aid in limiting neoplastic transformation. Conversely, selected microRNAs that are upregulated in liver tumor cells can promote malignant features, contributing to carcinogenesis. In addition, microRNAs themselves are subject to regulated expression, including regulation by tumor suppressor and oncogene pathways. This review will focus on the expression and function of cancer-related microRNAs, including their intimate involvement in tumor suppressor and oncogene signaling networks relevant to hepatobiliary neoplasia.
Cholangiocarcinoma; Hepatocellular carcinoma; miRNA; Oncogene; Tumor suppressor
MicroRNAs are small noncoding RNAs regulating expression of protein coding genes at post-transcriptional level and controlling several biological processes. At present microRNAs have been identified in various metazoans and seem also to be involved in brain development, neuronal differentiation and subtypes specification. An approach to better understand the role of microRNAs in animal gene expression is to determine temporal and tissue-specific expression patterns of microRNAs in different model organisms. Therefore, we have investigated the expression of six neural related microRNAs in amphioxus, an organism having an important phylogenetic position in terms of understanding the origin and evolution of chordates.
In amphioxus, all the microRNAs we examined are expressed in specific regions of the CNS, and some of them are correlated with specific cell types. In addition, miR-7, miR-137 and miR-184 are also expressed in endodermal and mesodermal tissues. Several potential targets expressed in the nervous system of amphioxus have been identified by computational prediction and some of them are coexpressed with one or more miRNAs.
We identified six miRNAs that are expressed in the nervous system of amphioxus in a variety of patterns. miR-124 is found in both differentiating and mature neurons, miR-9 in differentiated neurons, miR-7, miR-137 and miR-184 in restricted CNS regions, and miR-183 in cells of sensory organs. Therefore, such amphioxus miRNAs may play important roles in regional patterning and/or specification of neuronal cell types.