MicroRNAs (miRs) have emerged recently as important regulators of gene expression in the cell. Frequently dysregulated in cancer, miRs have shed new light on molecular mechanisms of oncogenesis, and have generated substantial interest as biomarkers, and novel therapeutic agents and targets. Recently, a number of studies have examined miR biology in Ewing sarcoma. Findings indicate that alterations in miR expression in Ewing Sarcoma are widespread, involve both EWS/Ets oncogenic fusion-dependent and independent mechanisms, and contribute to malignant phenotypes. miRs with prognostic potential have been identified, and several preclinical studies suggest that miR manipulation could be therapeutically useful in this aggressive disease. These and future studies of miR biology stand to expand our understanding of Ewing sarcoma pathogenesis, and may identify new biomarkers and treatment options.
microRNAs; sarcoma; Ewing sarcoma; pathogenesis; prognosis; therapy
Osteosarcomas are the most common primary malignant tumors of bone and show multiple and complex genomic aberrations. miRNAs are non-coding RNAs capable of regulating gene expression at the post transcriptional level, and miRNAs and their target genes may represent novel therapeutic targets or biomarkers for osteosarcoma. In order to investigate the involvement of miRNAs in osteosarcoma development, global microarray analyses of a panel of 19 human osteosarcoma cell lines was performed.
We identified 177 miRNAs that were differentially expressed in osteosarcoma cell lines relative to normal bone. Among these, miR-126/miR-126*, miR-142-3p, miR-150, miR-223, miR-486-5p and members of the miR-1/miR-133a, miR-144/miR-451, miR-195/miR-497 and miR-206/miR-133b clusters were found to be downregulated in osteosarcoma cell lines. All miRNAs in the paralogous clusters miR-17-92, miR-106b-25 and miR-106a-92 were overexpressed. Furthermore, the upregulated miRNAs included miR-9/miR-9*, miR-21*, miR-31/miR-31*, miR-196a/miR-196b, miR-374a and members of the miR-29 and miR-130/301 families. The most interesting inversely correlated miRNA/mRNA pairs in osteosarcoma cell lines included miR-9/TGFBR2 and miR-29/p85α regulatory subunit of PI3K. PTEN mRNA correlated inversely with miR-92a and members of the miR-17 and miR-130/301 families. Expression profiles of selected miRNAs were confirmed in clinical samples. A set of miRNAs, miR-1, miR-18a, miR-18b, miR-19b, miR-31, miR-126, miR-142-3p, miR-133b, miR-144, miR-195, miR-223, miR-451 and miR-497 was identified with an intermediate expression level in osteosarcoma clinical samples compared to osteoblasts and bone, which may reflect the differentiation level of osteosarcoma relative to the undifferentiated osteoblast and fully differentiated normal bone. Significance: This study provides an integrated analysis of miRNA and mRNA in osteosarcoma, and gives new insight into the complex genetic mechanisms of osteosarcoma development and progression.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic and severe autoimmune disease that affects joint tissues, bone, and cartilage. However, the pathogenesis of RA is still unclear. Autoantibodies such as rheumatoid factor and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide are useful tools for early diagnosis, monitoring disease activity, and predicting prognosis. Recently, many groups have focused their attention on the role of microRNAs in the pathogenesis of RA, as well as a potential biomarker to monitor RA. In fact, the expression of some microRNAs, such as miR-146a, is upregulated in different cell types and tissues in RA patients. MicroRNAs in RA could also be considered as possible future targets for new therapeutic approaches.
autoimmunity; innate immunity; rheumatoid arthritis; microRNA; miR-146a
The clinical utility of miR-215 as a potential biomarker in colon cancer was investigated. The levels of miR-215 were quantified by real-time qRT-PCR in 34 paired normal and tumor specimens. The expression levels of miR-215 were decreased in colon tumors, and were associated with patient survival. Thus, miR-215 is a potential prognostic biomarker in colon cancer.
We have previously shown that miR-215 suppressed the expression of key targets such as thymidylate synthase (TS), dihydrofolate reductase, and denticleless protein homolog (DTL) in colon cancer. miR-215 is a tumor suppressor candidate due to the upregulation of p53 and p21 by targeting DTL. However, high levels of miR-215 conferred chemoresistance due to cell cycle arrest and reduced cell proliferation by suppressing DTL. In this study, the clinical significance of miR-215 was further investigated as a potential prognostic biomarker in colon cancer patients.
Total RNAs were extracted from 34 paired normal and colon (stage II and III) tumor specimens using the Trizol-based approach. The levels of miR-215 and a closely related miR-192 were quantified using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) expression analysis. The expression of DTL mRNA and protein were quantified by real time qRT-PCR and immunohistochemistry.
The expression levels of miR-192 (P = .0008) and miR-215 (P < .0001) were significantly decreased in colon tumors compared with normal tissues. DTL was significantly over-expressed and was inversely correlated with miR-215, further suggesting an in vivo physiologic relevance of miR-215 mediated DTL suppression. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis by Cox regression revealed that high levels of miR-215 expression (hazard ratio, 3.516; 95% confidence interval, 1.007–12.28, P = .025) are closely associated with poor patient’s overall survival. Furthermore, an elevated expression of a miR-215 target protein DTL was detected in colon cancer tissues whereas no expression was present in normal tissues.
miR-215 has a unique potential as a prognostic biomarker in stage II and III colon cancer.
Biomarker; Colon cancer; MicroRNA; Prognosis
The Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane conductance Regulator (CFTR) is a chloride channel that plays a critical role in the lung by maintaining fluid homeostasis. Absence or malfunction of CFTR leads to Cystic Fibrosis, a disease characterized by chronic infection and inflammation. We recently reported that air pollutants such as cigarette smoke and cadmium negatively regulate the expression of CFTR by affecting several steps in the biogenesis of CFTR protein. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have recently received a great deal of attention as both biomarkers and therapeutics due to their ability to regulate multiple genes. Here, we show that cigarette smoke and cadmium up-regulate the expression of two miRNAs (miR-101 and miR-144) that are predicted to target CFTR in human bronchial epithelial cells. When premature miR-101 and miR-144 were transfected in human airway epithelial cells, they directly targeted the CFTR 3′UTR and suppressed the expression of the CFTR protein. Since miR-101 was highly up-regulated by cigarette smoke in vitro, we investigated whether such increase also occurred in vivo. Mice exposed to cigarette smoke for 4 weeks demonstrated an up-regulation of miR-101 and suppression of CFTR protein in their lungs. Finally, we show that miR-101 is highly expressed in lung samples from patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) when compared to control patients. Taken together, these results suggest that chronic cigarette smoking up-regulates miR-101 and that this miRNA could contribute to suppression of CFTR in the lungs of COPD patients.
Prostate cancer (PCa) is the most common malignant carcinoma that develops in men in Western countries. MicroRNA (miRNA) have the potential to be used as biomarkers and therapeutic targets for the treatment of various cancers. We found significantly higher expression of miR-30d in 3 PCa cell lines (PC3, DU145 and LNCaP) compared with 2 normal prostate cell lines (RWPE-1 and PrSc) using miRNA microarrays and qPCR. Clinicopathological study revealed that miR-30d expression levels were significantly higher in cancer tissue samples than in the paired normal controls (P = 0.03). Furthermore, the miR-30d−high group had shorter time to biochemical recurrence (P = 0.026). MiR-30d overexpressed PCa cells promoted proliferation and invasion in vitro. Inoculation of miR-30d depleted PCa cells dramatically reduced tumor volumes in vivo. Using reporter gene assay, we identified miR-30d as a downregulator of SOCS1 expression by directly binding to 3'-UTR of SOCS1. MiR-30d regulated the expression of phospho-STAT3, MMP-2 and MMP-9 through the downregulation of SOCS1. The levels of SOCS1 mRNA and protein were significantly down-regulated in prostate cancer tissues. Consistently, miR-30d expression was inversely correlated with SOCS1 expression (P = 0.03). The miR-30d−high/SOCS1−low group was associated with an increased risk of early biochemical recurrence (P = 0.0057). Taken together, miR-30d appears to be a novel independent prognostic marker of PCa progression that allows clinicians to identify patients who need more intensive treatments.
miRNA-30d; prostate cancer; biochemical recurrence; SOCS1
MicroRNAs (miRs) are transcriptionally-regulated single-strand RNAs that depress protein expression through post-transcriptional mRNA silencing. A host of recent studies have established essential roles for miRs in cardiac development and cardiac health. Regulated myocardial miR expression is seen in a variety of cardiac syndromes, and serum miR levels are being evaluated as disease biomarkers. Manipulation of miR levels in mouse hearts using genetic techniques or engineered miR mimetics and antagonists is elucidating the roles of specific cardiac miRs in cardiac development, the cardiac response to injury or stress, and heart disease. Targeting of multiple factors within a single biological response pathway by a given miR has prompted development of small miR-targeting molecules that can be readily delivered and have sustained in vivo effects. These advances establish a foundation for novel diagnostics and new therapeutic approaches for myocardial infarction, cardiac hypertrophy, and heart failure.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have prognostic and therapeutic value for colorectal cancers (CRCs). Although formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues are available for biomarker studies, the stability of miRNAs in these tissues stored for long periods (>20 years) is unknown. The present effort involved analysis of 345 FFPE CRC tissues, stored for 6 to 28 years (1982-2004), for the expression of six miRNAs (miR-20a, miR-21, miR-106a, miR-181b, miR-203, and miR-324-5p) using TaqMan® microRNA assays and quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). Evaluation, by linear regression analysis, of miRNA expression among archived CRC tissues found similar levels of all six miRNAs in tissues stored over this period (correlation coefficients, R2, ranged from <0.0001-0.009; and t-test p-values were ≥ 0.05). Thus, miRNAs are stable in FFPE tissues stored for long periods of time, and such samples can be used for discovery of biomarkers.
miRNA; Colorectal Cancer; FFPE; Stability; Biomarkers
MicroRNAs (miRs) are interesting new diagnostic targets that may provide important insights into the molecular pathogenesis of breast cancer. Here we evaluated, for the first time, the feasibility and clinical utility of circulating miRs as biomarkers for the detection and staging of breast cancer.
The relative concentrations of breast cancer-associated miR10b, miR34a, miR141 and miR155 were measured in the blood serum of 89 patients with primary breast cancer (M0, n = 59) and metastatic disease (M1, n = 30), and 29 healthy women by a TaqMan MicroRNA Assay.
The relative concentrations of total RNA (P = 0.0001) and miR155 (P = 0.0001) in serum significantly discriminated M0-patients from healthy women, whereas miR10b (P = 0.005), miR34a (P = 0.001) and miR155 (P = 0.008) discriminated M1-patients from healthy controls. In breast cancer patients, the changes in the levels of total RNA (P = 0.0001), miR10b (P = 0.01), miR34a (P = 0.003) and miR155 (P = 0.002) correlated with the presence of overt metastases. Within the M0-cohort, patients at advanced tumor stages (pT3 to 4) had significantly more total RNA (P = 0.0001) and miR34a (P = 0.01) in their blood than patients at early tumor stages (pT1 to 2).
This pilot study provides first evidence that tumor-associated circulating miRs are elevated in the blood of breast cancer patients and associated with tumor progression.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate gene expression by binding to mRNA, and can function as oncogenes or tumor suppressors depending on the target. In this study, using qRT-PCR, we examined the expression of six miRNAs (miR-21, miR-31, miR-92a, miR-101, miR-106a and miR-145) in tumors from 193 prospectively recruited patients with colorectal cancer, and associations with clinicopathological parameters and patient outcome were analyzed. The miRNAs were chosen based on previous studies for their biomarker potential and suggested biological relevance in colorectal cancer.
The miRNA expression was examined by qRT-PCR. Associations between miRNA expression and clinicopathological variables were explored using Mann–Whitney U and Kruskal-Wallis test while survival was estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method and compared using the log-rank test.
MiR-101 was hardly expressed in the tumor samples, while for the other miRNAs, variable expression levels and expression ranges were observed, with miR-21 being most abundantly expressed relative to the reference (RNU44). In our study cohort, major clinical significance was demonstrated only for miR-31, as high expression was associated with advanced tumor stage and poor differentiation. No significant associations were found between expression of the investigated miRNAs and metastasis-free or overall survival.
Investigating the expression of six miRNAs previously identified as candidate biomarkers in colorectal cancer, few clinically relevant associations were detected in our patient cohort. Our results emphasize the importance of validating potential tumor markers in independent patient cohorts, and indicate that the role of miRNAs as colorectal cancer biomarkers is still undetermined.
MiRNA; Colorectal cancer; Prognostic biomarker
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are potent regulators of mRNA stability and thereby protein expression. As such, miRNAs have become of interest as possible therapeutics and/or therapeutic targets. In this context, small complementary miRNA sequences known as antagomirs could be used to inhibit miRNA activity, while miRNA mimics could confer gain-of-function activity. However, a note of caution is sounded by Patrick et al. in this issue of the JCI, as they show that although recent reports have suggested that an miR-21 antagomir might be therapeutically useful in preventing heart failure in mice, genetic deletion of miR-21 does not confer a similar phenotype, suggesting possible confounding factors that are only now beginning to be revealed in the techniques used to study miRNA biology.
Despite recent advances in the understanding of the biology of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and the implementation of novel targeted therapies, the overall 5 years’ survival rate for RCC patients remains disappointing. Late presentation, tumor heterogeneity and in particular the lack of molecular biomarkers for early detection and classification represent major obstacles. Global, untargeted comparative analysis of RCC vs tumor adjacent renal epithelium (NN) samples by high throughput analyses both at the transcriptome and proteome level have identified signatures, which might further clarify the molecular differences of RCC subtypes and might allow the identification of suitable therapeutic targets and diagnostic/prognostic biomarkers, but none thereof has yet been implemented in routine clinical use. The increasing knowledge regarding the functional role of noncoding microRNA (miR) in physiological, developmental, and pathophysiological processes by shaping the protein expression profile might provide an important link to improve the definition of disease-relevant regulatory networks. Taking into account that miR profiling of RCC and NN provides robust signatures discriminating between malignant and normal tissues, the concept of evaluating and scoring miR/protein pairs might represent a strategy for the selection and prioritization of potential biomarkers and their translation into practical use.
RCC; miR; proteomics; biomarker
miR-155 is a prominent microRNA (miRNA) that regulates genes involved in immunity and cancer-related pathways. miR-155 is overexpressed in lung cancer, which correlates with poor patient prognosis. It is unclear how miR-155 becomes increased in lung cancers and how this increase contributes to reduced patient survival. Here, we show that hypoxic conditions induce miR-155 expression in lung cancer cells and trigger a corresponding decrease in a validated target, FOXO3A. Furthermore, we find that increased levels of miR-155 radioprotects lung cancer cells, while inhibition of miR-155 radiosensitizes these cells. Moreover, we reveal a therapeutically important link between miR-155 expression, hypoxia, and irradiation by demonstrating that anti-miR-155 molecules also sensitize hypoxic lung cancer cells to irradiation. Our study helps explain how miR-155 becomes elevated in lung cancers, which contain extensive hypoxic microenvironments, and demonstrates that inhibition of miR-155 may have important therapeutic potential as a means to radiosensitize hypoxic lung cancer cells.
microRNAs; miR-155; hypoxia; radiosensitizer; lung cancer
Because latent Epstein Barr (EBV)-infection is a specific characteristic of malignant nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), various molecules of viral origin are obvious candidate biomarkers in this disease. In a previous study, we could show in a few clinical samples that it was possible to detect a category of EBV microRNAs called miR-BARTs in the plasma of at least a fraction of NPC patients. The first aim of the present study was to investigate the status of circulating miR-BART17-5p (one of the miR-BARTs hereafter called miR-BART17) and EBV DNA in a larger series of NPC plasma samples. The second aim was to determine whether or not circulating miR-BART17 was carried by plasma exosomes.
Patients and methods
Plasma samples were collected from 26 NPC patients and 10 control donors, including 9 patients with non-NPC Head and Neck squamous cell carcinoma and one healthy EBV carrier. Concentrations of miR-BART17 and two cellular microRNAs (hsa-miR-16 and -146a) were assessed by real-time quantitative PCR with spike-in normalization and absolute quantification. In addition, for 2 patients, exosome distributions of miR-BART17 and miR-16 were investigated following plasma lipoprotein fractionation by isopycnic density gradient ultrcentrifugation.
The miR-BART17 was significantly more abundant in plasma samples from NPC patients compared to non-NPC donors. Above a threshold of 506 copies/mL, detection of miR-BART17 was highly specific for NPC patients (ROC curve analysis: AUC=0.87 with true positive rate = 0.77, false positive rate = 0.10). In this relatively small series, the concentration of plasma miR-BART17 and the plasma EBV DNA load were not correlated. When plasma samples were fractionated, miR-BART17 co-purified with a protein-rich fraction but not with exosomes.
Detection of high concentrations of plasma miR-BART17 is consistent in NPC patients. This parameter is, at least in part, independent of the viral DNA load. Circulating miR-BART17 does not co-purify with exosomes.
Biomarker; DNA load; Epstein-Barr virus; Exosomes; Head and Neck carcinomas; Lipoproteins; miR-BART; microRNA; Nasopharyngeal carcinoma; Plasma
MicroRNAs (miRs) are small, endogenous, non-coding RNAs that regulate the stability and/or translation of complementary mRNA targets. MiRs have emerged not only as critical modulators of normal physiologic processes, but their deregulation may significantly impact prostate and other cancers. The expression of miR-23b and miR-27b, which are encoded by the same miR cluster (miR-23b/-27b), are downregulated in metastatic, castration-resistant tumors compared to primary prostate cancer and benign tissue; however, their possible role in prostate cancer progression is unknown. We found that ectopic expression of miR-23b/-27b in two independent castration-resistant prostate cancer cell lines resulted in suppression of invasion and migration, as well as reduced survival in soft agar (a measure of anoikis). However, there was no effect of miR-23b/-27b on cell proliferation suggesting that these miRs function as metastasis (but not growth) suppressors in prostate cancer. Conversely, inhibition of miR-23b/-27b in the less aggressive androgen-dependent LNCaP prostate cancer cell line resulted in enhanced invasion and migration also without affecting proliferation. Mechanistically, we found that introduction of miR-23b/-27b in metastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer cell lines resulted in a significant attenuation of Rac1 activity without affecting total Rac1 levels and caused increased levels of the tumor suppressor E-cadherin. Inhibition of these miRs had the opposite effect in androgen-dependent LNCaP cells. These results suggest that miR-23b/-27b are metastasis suppressors that might serve as novel biomarkers and therapeutic agents for castration-resistant disease.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs), endogenous small noncoding RNAs regulating the activities of target mRNAs and cellular processes, are present in human plasma in a stable form. In this study, we investigated whether miRNAs are also stably present in synovial fluids and whether plasma and synovial fluid miRNAs could be biomarkers of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA).
We measured concentrations of miR-16, miR-132, miR-146a, miR-155 and miR-223 in synovial fluid from patients with RA and OA, and those in plasma from RA, OA and healthy controls (HCs) by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Furthermore, miRNAs in the conditioned medium of synovial tissues, monolayer fibroblast-like synoviocytes, and mononuclear cells were examined. Correlations between miRNAs and biomarkers or disease activities of RA were statistically examined.
Synovial fluid miRNAs were present and as stable as plasma miRNAs for storage at -20°C and freeze-thawing from -20°C to 4°C. In RA and OA, synovial fluid concentrations of miR-16, miR-132, miR-146a, and miR-223 were significantly lower than their plasma concentrations, and there were no correlation between plasma and synovial fluid miRNAs. Interestingly, synovial tissues, fibroblast-like synoviocytes, and mononuclear cells secreted miRNAs in distinct patterns. The expression patterns of miRNAs in synovial fluid of OA were similar to miRNAs secreted by synovial tissues. Synovial fluid miRNAs of RA were likely to originate from synovial tissues and infiltrating cells. Plasma miR-132 of HC was significantly higher than that of RA or OA with high diagnosability. Synovial fluid concentrations of miR-16, miR-146a miR-155 and miR-223 of RA were significantly higher than those of OA. Plasma miRNAs or ratio of synovial fluid miRNAs to plasma miRNAs, including miR-16 and miR-146a, significantly correlated with tender joint counts and 28-joint Disease Activity Score.
Plasma miRNAs had distinct patterns from synovial fluid miRNAs, which appeared to originate from synovial tissue. Plasma miR-132 well differentiated HCs from patients with RA or OA, while synovial fluid miRNAs differentiated RA and OA. Furthermore, plasma miRNAs correlated with the disease activities of RA. Thus, synovial fluid and plasma miRNAs have potential as diagnostic biomarkers for RA and OA and as a tool for the analysis of their pathogenesis.
Growing evidences indicate microRNAs play important roles in cancer development, progression, metastasis and may constitute robust biomarkers for cancer prognosis. The aim of this study was to identify the clinical and functional association of microRNA-20a (miR-20a) in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
MiR-20a was detected using Taqman real-time polymerase chain reaction. Kaplan-Meier and Cox proportional regression analyses were utilized to determine the association of miR-20a with survival of patients. The potential functions of miR-20a on proliferation were evaluated by proliferation and flow cytometry analysis. The direct target gene of miR-20a was also identified by luciferase reporter assays.
MiR-20a was lower in primary HCC than normal liver, and were further decreased in those with post-liver transplantation (LT) HCC recurrence compared with those with non-recurrence (p = 0.001). Patients with lower miR-20a expression had significantly poorer recurrence-free survival (RFS, Log rank p < 0.001) and overall survival (OS, Log rank p < 0.001). Multivariate analysis revealed that lower miR-20a was an independent predictor of poor prognosis. MiR-20a restoration could suppress HepG2 and SMMC-7721 cells proliferation and induce cell cycle G1 arrest and apoptosis. Subsequent investigations revealed that miR-20a directly targeted myeloid cell leukemia sequence 1 (Mcl-1) and reduced the endogenous protein level of Mcl-1 in HCC cells.
MiR-20a is decreased in HCCs and correlates with HCC recurrence and prognosis. Down-regulation of miR-20a increases the proliferation abilities of HCC cells. Our findings suggest miR-20a may represent a novel potential therapeutic target and biomarker for survival of HCC patients.
MicroRNA-20a; Hepatocellular Carcinoma; Recurrence; Prognosis; Liver transplantation
MicroRNAs (miRs) regulate protein expression by inhibiting translation of expressed mRNAs. Targeting by one or more miRs of multiple mRNA transcripts encoding proteins with common functions confers nodal control over cardiac development and stress-response. Dynamic co-regulation of miRs and their mRNA targets has complicated understanding their biology, but also provides opportunities for clinical diagnostics and therapeutics. Here, the biology of miRs is reviewed as it relates to the cardiac system, recent findings are described that illuminate miR control of cardiac development and myofiber identity, and the clinical ramifications of miR expression profiling are illustrated.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a small class of non-coding RNAs that negatively regulate gene expression, and are considered as new therapeutic targets for treating cancer. In this study, we performed a gain-of-function screen using miRNA mimic library (319 miRNA species) to identify those affecting cell proliferation in human epithelial ovarian cancer cells (A2780). We discovered a number of miRNAs that increased or decreased the cell viability of A2780 cells. Pro-proliferative and anti-proliferative miRNAs include oncogenic miR-372 and miR-373, and tumor suppressive miR-124a, miR-7, miR-192 and miR-193a, respectively. We found that overexpression of miR-124a, miR-192, miR-193a and miR-193b inhibited BrdU incorporation in A2780 cells, indicating that these miRNAs affected the cell cycle. Overexpression of miR-193a and miR-193b induced an activation of caspase 3/7, and resulted in apoptotic cell death in A2780 cells. A genome-wide gene expression analysis with miR-193a-transfected A2780 cells led to identification of ARHGAP19, CCND1, ERBB4, KRAS and MCL1 as potential miR-193a targets. We demonstrated that miR-193a decreased the amount of MCL1 protein by binding 3′UTR of its mRNA. Our study suggests the potential of miRNA screens to discover miRNAs as therapeutic tools to treat ovarian cancer.
microRNA; cell proliferation; apoptosis; miR-193; ovarian cancer cell
Recent studies have emphasized causative links between microRNAs (miRNAs) deregulation and tumor development. In hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), more and more miRNAs were identified as diagnostic and prognostic cancer biomarkers, as well as additional therapeutic tools. This study aimed to investigate the functional significance and regulatory mechanism of the miR-199a2/214 cluster in HCC progression.
Methods and Findings
In this study, we showed that miR-214, as well as miR-199a-3p and miR-199a-5p levels were significantly reduced in the majority of examined 23 HCC tissues and HepG2 and SMMC-7721 cell lines, compared with their nontumor counterparts. To further explore the role of miR-214 in hepatocarcinogenesis, we disclosed that the ER stress-induced pro-survival factor XBP-1 is a target of miR-214 by using western blot assay and luciferase reporter assay. Re-expression of miR-214 in HCC cell lines (HepG2 and SMMC-7721) inhibited proliferation and induced apoptosis. Furthermore, ectopic expression of miR-214 dramatically suppressed the ability of HCC cells to form colonies in vitro and to develop tumors in a subcutaneous xenotransplantation model of the BALB/c athymic nude mice. Moreover, reintroduction of XBP-1s attenuated miR-214-mediated suppression of HCC cells proliferation, colony and tumor formation. To further understand the mechanism of the miR-199a/214 cluster down-expression in HCC, we found that thapsigargin (TG) and tunicamycin (TM) or hypoxia-induced unfolded protein response (UPR) suppresses the expression of the miR-199a/214 cluster in HCC cells. By promoter analysis of the miR-199a2/214 gene, we conjectured NFκB as a potential negative regulator. We further found that UPR and LPS-induced NFκB activation suppressed miR-199a2/214 transcription, and this suppression was reversed by NFκB inhibition in HCC cells.
Our study suggest that modulation of miR-214 levels may provide a new therapeutic approach for cancer treatment and revealed that UPR may offer a new explanation for why the miR-199a/214 cluster were down-regulated in the progression in HCC.
The identification of reliable transcriptome biomarkers requires the simultaneous consideration of regulatory and target elements including microRNAs (miRNAs), transcription factors (TFs), and target genes. A novel approach that integrates multivariate survival analysis, feature selection, and regulatory network visualization was used to identify reliable biomarkers of ovarian cancer survival and recurrence. Expression profiles of 799 miRNAs, 17,814 TFs and target genes and cohort clinical records on 272 patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer were simultaneously considered and results were validated on an independent group of 146 patients. Three miRNAs (hsa-miR-16, hsa-miR-22*, and ebv-miR-BHRF1-2*) were associated with both ovarian cancer survival and recurrence and 27 miRNAs were associated with either one hazard. Two miRNAs (hsa-miR-521 and hsa-miR-497) were cohort-dependent, while 28 were cohort-independent. This study confirmed 19 miRNAs previously associated with ovarian cancer and identified two miRNAs that have previously been associated with other cancer types. In total, the expression of 838 and 734 target genes and 12 and eight TFs were associated (FDR-adjusted P-value <0.05) with ovarian cancer survival and recurrence, respectively. Functional analysis highlighted the association between cellular and nucleotide metabolic processes and ovarian cancer. The more direct connections and higher centrality of the miRNAs, TFs and target genes in the survival network studied suggest that network-based approaches to prognosticate or predict ovarian cancer survival may be more effective than those for ovarian cancer recurrence. This study demonstrated the feasibility to infer reliable miRNA-TF-target gene networks associated with survival and recurrence of ovarian cancer based on the simultaneous analysis of co-expression profiles and consideration of the clinical characteristics of the patients.
A rising body of evidence suggests that silencing microRNAs (miRNAs) with oncogenic potential may represent a successful therapeutic strategy for human cancer. We investigated the therapeutic activity of miR-221/222 inhibitors against human multiple myeloma (MM) cells. Enforced expression of miR-221/222 inhibitors triggered in vitro anti-proliferative effects and up-regulation of canonic miR-221/222 targets, including p27Kip1, PUMA, PTEN and p57Kip2, in MM cells highly expressing miR-221/222. Conversely, transfection of miR-221/222 mimics increased S-phase and down-regulated p27Kip1 protein expression in MM with low basal miR-221/222 levels. The effects of miR-221/222 inhibitors was also evaluated in MM xenografts in SCID/NOD mice. Significant anti-tumor activity was achieved in xenografted mice by the treatment with miR-221/222 inhibitors, together with up-regulation of canonic protein targets in tumors retrieved from animals. These findings provide proof of principle that silencing the miR-221/222 cluster exerts significant therapeutic activity in MM cells with high miR-221/222 level of expression, which mostly occurs in TC2 and TC4 MM groups. These findings suggest that MM genotyping may predict the therapeutic response. All together our results support a framework for clinical development of miR-221/222 inhibitors-based therapeutic strategy in this still incurable disease.
miR-221; miR-222; microRNA; miRNA; multiple myeloma; plasma cell leukemia
MicroRNA-21 (miR-21) is frequently up-regulated in cancer and the majority of its reported targets are tumor suppressors. Through functional suppression, miR-21 is implicated in practically every walk of oncogenic life: the promotion of cell proliferation, invasion and metastasis, genome instability and mutation, inflammation, replicative immortalization, abnormal metabolism, angiogenesis, and evading apoptosis, immune destruction, and growth suppressors. In particular, miR-21 is strongly involved in apoptosis. In this article, we reviewed the experimentally validated targets of miR-21 and found that two thirds are linked to intrinsic and/or extrinsic pathways of cellular apoptosis. This suggests that miR-21 is an oncogene which plays a key role in resisting programmed cell death in cancer cells and that targeting apoptosis is a viable therapeutic option against cancers expressing miR-21.
MicroRNA; miR-21; apoptosis; cancer
An important host factor for hepatitis C virus (HCV) is microRNA-122 (miR-122). miR-122 is a liver-specific member of a family of small, non-coding RNA molecules known as microRNAs that play major roles in the regulation of gene expression by direct interaction with RNA targets. miR-122 binds directly to two sites in the 5′ untranslated region (UTR) of HCV RNA and positively regulates the viral life cycle. The mechanism by which this regulation occurs is still not fully understood. There has been a great deal of interest in potential therapeutics based on small RNAs, and targeting miR-122 to combat HCV is one of the furthest advanced. Chemical inhibitors of miR-122 can be introduced into mammals intravenously and result in potent and specific knockdown of the microRNA, with no detectable adverse effects on liver physiology. This strategy was recently applied to chimpanzees chronically infected with HCV and resulted in a sustained reduction in viral load in the animals. Inhibition of miR-122 therefore presents a very attractive novel approach to treating HCV, a virus for which improved therapeutics are urgently needed.
microRNA-122; hepatitis C virus
Several recent studies demonstrated that microRNAs (miRNAs) are stably detectable in plasma/serum. We hypothesised that plasma miRNAs concentrations contributed to potential biomarkers in patients with oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC).
We selected three oncogenic miRNAs (miR-21, miR-184, miR-221) and one tumour suppressive miRNA (miR-375), which are frequently reported in squamous cell carcinoma, as candidate targets for this plasma miRNA assay. This study was divided into three steps: (1) Determination of appropriate plasma miRNAs in preliminary tests. (2) Evaluation of whether the plasma miRNA assays could monitor tumour dynamics. (3) Validation study on the clinical application of plasma miRNA assays in 50 ESCC patients and 20 healthy volunteers.
(1) In preliminary tests, the plasma level of miR-21 was significantly higher (P=0.0218) and that of miR-375 (P=0.0052) was significantly lower in ESCC patients than controls. (2) The high plasma miR-21 levels reflected tumour levels in all cases (100%). The plasma level of miR-21 was significantly reduced in postoperative samples (P=0.0058). (3) On validation analysis, the plasma level of miR-21 tended to be higher in ESCC patients (P=0.0649), while that of miR-375 was significantly lower (P<0.0001) and the miR-21/miR-375 ratio was significantly higher (P<0.0001) in ESCC patients than in controls. The value of the area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve (AUC) was 0.816 for the miR-21/miR-375 ratio assay. Patients with a high plasma level of miR-21 tended to have greater vascular invasion (P=0.1554) and to show a high correlation with recurrence (P=0.0164).
Detection of circulating miRNAs might provide new complementary tumour markers for ESCC.
oesophageal cancer; microRNA; plasma; biomarker