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1.  MicroRNA-221 and microRNA-222 regulate gastric carcinoma cell proliferation and radioresistance by targeting PTEN 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:367.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) can function as either oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes via regulation of cell proliferation and/or apoptosis. MiR-221 and miR-222 were discovered to induce cell growth and cell cycle progression via direct targeting of p27 and p57 in various human malignancies. However, the roles of miR-221 and miR-222 have not been reported in human gastric cancer. In this study, we examined the impact of miR-221 and miR-222 on human gastric cancer cells, and identified target genes for miR-221 and miR-222 that might mediate their biology.
The human gastric cancer cell line SGC7901 was transfected with AS-miR-221/222 or transduced with pMSCV-miR-221/222 to knockdown or restore expression of miR-221 and miR-222, respectively. The effects of miR-221 and miR-222 were then assessed by cell viability, cell cycle analysis, apoptosis, transwell, and clonogenic assay. Potential target genes were identified by Western blot and luciferase reporter assay.
Upregulation of miR-221 and miR-222 induced the malignant phenotype of SGC7901 cells, whereas knockdown of miR-221 and miR-222 reversed this phenotype via induction of PTEN expression. In addition, knockdonwn of miR-221 and miR-222 inhibited cell growth and invasion and increased the radiosensitivity of SGC7901 cells. Notably, the seed sequence of miR-221 and miR-222 matched the 3'UTR of PTEN, and introducing a PTEN cDNA without the 3'UTR into SGC7901 cells abrogated the miR-221 and miR-222-induced malignant phenotype. PTEN-3'UTR luciferase reporter assay confirmed PTEN as a direct target of miR-221 and miR-222.
These results demonstrate that miR-221 and miR-222 regulate radiosensitivity, and cell growth and invasion of SGC7901 cells, possibly via direct modulation of PTEN expression. Our study suggests that inhibition of miR-221 and miR-222 might form a novel therapeutic strategy for human gastric cancer.
PMCID: PMC2914702  PMID: 20618998
2.  Down-regulation of MicroRNAs 222/221 in Acute Myelogenous Leukemia with Deranged Core-Binding Factor Subunits12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2010;12(11):866-876.
Core-binding factor leukemia (CBFL) is a subgroup of acutemyeloid leukemia (AML) characterized by genetic mutations involving the subunits of the core-binding factor (CBF). The leukemogenesis model for CBFL posits that one, or more, gene mutations inducing increased cell proliferation and/or inhibition of apoptosis cooperate with CBF mutations for leukemia development. One of the most commonmutations associated with CBF mutations involves the KIT receptor. A high expression of KIT is a hallmark of a high proportion of CBFL. Previous studies indicate that microRNA (MIR) 222/221 targets the 3′ untranslated region of the KIT messenger RNA and our observation that AML1 can bind the MIR-222/221 promoter, we hypothesized that MIR-222/221 represents the link between CBF and KIT. Here, we show that MIR-222/221 expression is upregulated after myeloid differentiation of normal bone marrow AC133+ stem progenitor cells. CBFL blasts with either t(8;21) or inv(16) CBF rearrangements with high expression levels of KIT (CD117) display a significantly lower level of MIR-222/221 expression than non-CBFL blasts. Consistently, we found that the t(8;21) AML1-MTG8 fusion protein binds the MIR-222/221 promoter and induces transcriptional repression of a MIR-222/221-LUC reporter. Because of the highly conserved sequence homology, we demonstrated concomitant MIR-222/221 down-regulation and KIT up-regulation in the 32D/WT1 mouse cell model carrying the AML1-MTG16 fusion protein. This study provides the first hint that CBFL-associated fusion proteins may lead to up-regulation of the KIT receptor by down-regulating MIR-222/221, thus explaining the concomitant occurrence of CBF genetic rearrangements and overexpression of wild type or mutant KIT in AML.
PMCID: PMC2978910  PMID: 21076613
3.  In Vitro and in Vivo Anti-tumor Activity of miR-221/222 Inhibitors in Multiple Myeloma 
Oncotarget  2013;4(2):242-255.
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.
PMCID: PMC3712570  PMID: 23479461
miR-221; miR-222; microRNA; miRNA; multiple myeloma; plasma cell leukemia
4.  The abrogation of the HOXB7/PBX2 complex induces apoptosis in melanoma through the miR-221&222-c-FOS pathway 
Cutaneous melanoma is the fastest increasing cancer worldwide. Although several molecular abnormalities have been associated with melanoma progression, the underlying mechanisms are still largely unknown and few targeted therapies are under evaluation. Here we show that the HOXB7/PBX2 dimer acts as a positive transcriptional regulator of the oncogenic microRNA-221 and -222. In addition, demonstrating c-FOS as a direct target of miR-221&222, we identify a HOXB7/PBX2→miR-221&222 →c-FOS regulatory link, whereby the abrogation of functional HOXB7/PBX2 dimers leads to reduced miR-221&222 transcription and elevated c-FOS expression with consequent cell death. Taking advantage of the treatment with the peptide HXR9, an antagonist of HOX/PBX dimerization, we recognize miR-221&222 as effectors of its action, in turn confirming the HXR9 efficacy in the treatment of human melanoma malignancy, whilst sparing normal human melanocytes. Our findings, besides suggesting the potential therapeutic of HXR9 or its derivatives in malignant melanoma, suggest the disruption of the HOXB7/PBX2 complexes, miR-221&222 inhibition or even better their combination, as innovative therapeutic approaches.
PMCID: PMC3812682  PMID: 23400877
HOXB7; PBX; microRNA; HXR9 peptide; melanoma
5.  EGFR signaling pathway and related-miRNAs in age-related diseases: the example of miR-221 and miR-222 
Frontiers in Genetics  2012;3:286.
Presently, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer are the most clinically problematic age-related diseases worldwide. Although being distinct disorders, their developments share common cellular mechanisms. Oncogenesis and neurodegeneration arise from the deregulation of signaling pathways, as a consequence of the resulting imbalance in cellular homeostasis. The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) belongs to an important cellular signaling pathway, which regulates proliferation, differentiation, cell cycle and migration. As transcriptional targets of EGFR, the microRNAs-221/222 (miR-221/222) are important expression regulators. Dysfunctions in their networks are associated with cellular disruptions. The transcriptional activation of these microRNAs (miRNAs) seems to be involved in cell cycle, apoptosis, metastization, and in the acquisition of resistance to therapies. The up-regulation of miR-221/222 is associated with increased expression levels of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and repression of cell cycle inhibitors, which are key molecules in oncogenesis and neurodegeneration processes. The interaction loop between proliferative signaling pathways and miRNA expression could reveal new targets for controlling the molecular behavior of age-related diseases.
PMCID: PMC3516830  PMID: 23233863
EGFR; miRNAs; miR-221/222; age-related diseases; cancer; neurodegenerative diseases
6.  The Inhibition of the Highly Expressed Mir-221 and Mir-222 Impairs the Growth of Prostate Carcinoma Xenografts in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(12):e4029.
MiR-221 and miR-222 are two highly homologous microRNAs whose upregulation has been recently described in several types of human tumors, for some of which their oncogenic role was explained by the discovery of their target p27, a key cell cycle regulator. We previously showed this regulatory relationship in prostate carcinoma cell lines in vitro, underlying the role of miR-221/222 as inducers of proliferation and tumorigenicity.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here we describe a number of in vivo approaches confirming our previous data. The ectopic overexpression of miR-221 is able, per se, to confer a high growth advantage to LNCaP-derived tumors in SCID mice. Consistently, the anti-miR-221/222 antagomir treatment of established subcutaneous tumors derived from the highly aggressive PC3 cell line, naturally expressing high levels of miR-221/222, reduces tumor growth by increasing intratumoral p27 amount; this effect is long lasting, as it is detectable as long as 25 days after the treatment. Furthermore, we provide evidence in favour of a clinical relevance of the role of miR-221/222 in prostate carcinoma, by showing their general upregulation in patient-derived primary cell lines, where we find a significant inverse correlation with p27 expression.
These findings suggest that modulating miR-221/222 levels may have a therapeutic potential in prostate carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC2603596  PMID: 19107213
7.  Cell-specific effects of miR-221/222 in vessels: molecular mechanism and therapeutic application 
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are noncoding RNAs that impact almost every aspect of biology and disease. Until now, the cell-specific effects of miRNAs in cardiovascular system have not been established. In the current study, the cellular functions of miR-221 and miR-222 (miR-221/222) in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) and vascular endothelial cells (ECs) were compared. In cultured cells, we identified that the effects of miR-221/222 on proliferation, migration, and apoptosis are opposite between VSMCs and ECs. In VSMCs, miR-221/222 had effects of pro-proliferation, pro-migration, and anti-apoptosis. In contrast, miR-221/222 had effects of anti-proliferation, anti-migration, and pro-apoptosis in ECs. The different expression profiles of their target genes, p27(Kip1), p57(kip2), and c-kit between the two cell types might be related to the opposite effects. Finally, the opposite cellular effects of miR-221/222 were verified in vivo in balloon-injured rat carotid artery as demonstrated by different consequences in neointimal growth and re-endothelialization. The results suggest that the biological functions of miR-221/222 in vascular walls are cell-specific. The opposite cellular effects of miR-221/222 on VSMCs and ECs may have important therapeutic applications in many vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis and restenosis after angioplasty.
PMCID: PMC3664545  PMID: 22138289
microRNAs; smooth muscle cells; endothelial cells; cell-specific effects; vascular disease
8.  High level of miR-221/222 confers increased cell invasion and poor prognosis in glioma 
MiR-221 and miR-222 (miR-221/222), upregulated in gliomas, can regulate glioma cell cycle progression and apoptosis, respectively. However, the association of miR-221/222 with glioma cell invasion and survival remains unknown.
Invasion capability of miR-221/222 was detected by mutiple analyses, including diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), transwell, wound healing and nude mouse tumor xenograft model assay. Further, the target of miR-221/222 was determined by luciferase reporter, western blot and gene rescue assay. The association of miR-221/222 with outcome was examined in fifty glioma patients.
MiR-221/222 expression was significantly increased in high-grade gliomas compared with low-grade gliomas, and positively correlated with the degree of glioma infiltration. Over-expression of miR-221/222 increased cell invasion, whereas knockdown of miR-221/222 decreased cell invasion via modulating the levels of the target, TIMP3. Introduction of a TIMP3 cDNA lacking 3’ UTR abrogated miR-221/222-induced cell invasion. In addition, knockdown of miR-221/222 increased TIMP3 expression and considerably inhibited tumor growth in a xenograft model. Finally, the increased level of miR-221/222 expression in high-grade gliomas confers poorer overall survival.
The present data indicate that miR-221 and miR-222 directly regulate cell invasion by targeting TIMP3 and act as prognostic factors for glioma patients.
PMCID: PMC3403924  PMID: 22681957
MiRNA; TIMP3; Glioblastoma; Cell invasion; Prognosis
9.  NF-kB and c-Jun induce the expression of the oncogenic miR-221 and miR-222 in prostate carcinoma and glioblastoma cells 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(9):3892-3902.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are potent negative regulators of gene expression involved in all aspects of cell biology. They finely modulate virtually all physiological pathways in metazoans, and are deeply implicated in all main pathologies, among which cancer. Mir-221 and miR-222, two closely related miRNAs encoded in cluster from a genomic region on chromosome X, are strongly upregulated in several forms of human tumours. In this work, we report that the ectopic modulation of NF-kB modifies miR-221/222 expression in prostate carcinoma and glioblastoma cell lines, where we had previously shown their oncogenic activity. We identify two separate distal regions upstream of miR-221/222 promoter which are bound by the NF-kB subunit p65 and drive efficient transcription in luciferase reporter assays; consistently, the site-directed mutagenesis disrupting p65 binding sites or the ectopical inhibition of NF-kB activity significantly reduce luciferase activity. In the most distal enhancer region, we also define a binding site for c-Jun, and we show that the binding of this factor cooperates with that of p65, fully accounting for the observed upregulation of miR-221/222. Thus our work uncovers an additional mechanism through which NF-kB and c-Jun, two transcription factors deeply involved in cancer onset and progression, contribute to oncogenesis, by inducing miR-221/222 transcription.
PMCID: PMC3089483  PMID: 21245048
10.  MiR-221&222 regulate TRAIL-resistance and enhance tumorigenicity through PTEN and TIMP3 down-regulation 
Cancer cell  2009;16(6):498-509.
Lung and liver cancers are among the most deadly types of cancer. Despite improvements in treatment over the past few decades, patient survival remains poor, underlining the need for development of targeted therapies. MicroRNAs represent a class of small RNAs, frequently deregulated in human malignancies. We now report that miR221&222 are over-expressed in aggressive non small cell lung cancer and hepatocarcinoma cells, as compared with less invasive and/or normal lung and liver cells. We show that miR-221&222, by targeting PTEN and TIMP3 tumor suppressors, induce TRAIL resistance and enhance cellular migration through the activation of the AKT pathway and metallopeptidases. Finally, we demonstrate that the MET oncogene is involved in miR-221&222 activation, through the c-Jun transcription factor.
PMCID: PMC2796583  PMID: 19962668
11.  MiR-221 and MiR-222 Alterations in Sporadic Ovarian Carcinoma: Relationship to CDKN1B, CDKNIC and Overall Survival 
Genes, chromosomes & cancer  2010;49(7):577-584.
MicroRNAs are often aberrantly expressed in human neoplasms and are postulated to play a role in neoplastic initiation and progression. miR-221 and miR-222 negatively regulate expression of CDKN1B (p27)and CDKN1C (p57), two cell cycle regulators expressed in ovarian surface epithelium and down-regulated in ovarian carcinomas. We characterized miR-221 and miR-222 expression in 49 sporadic high grade ovarian carcinomas and determined whether somatic mutation or epigenetic alterations explained the differences in expression of these miRNAs. We correlated these findings with protein expression of CDKN1B and CDKN1C as assessed by immunohistochemistry. Expression of miR-221 and miR-222 were closely correlated with each other (P=0.0001). Interestingly, a lower ratio of miR-221 to miR-222 expression was significantly correlated with worse overall survival (P=0.01) and remained a significant predictor of overall survival in multivariate analysis using the co-variate adequacy of surgical cytoreduction (P=0.03). Higher miR-222 and miR-221 expression were significantly associated with decreased CDKN1C expression (P=0.009 and 0.01). In contrast, CDKN1B expression was not associated with miR-221 or miR-222 expression. Neither somatic mutations nor methylation of the studied region explained the alterations in miR-221 and miR-222 expression in most carcinomas.
PMCID: PMC2869465  PMID: 20461750
12.  Mechanisms of bone fragility in a glucocorticoid-treated mouse model of rheumatoid arthritis – implications for insufficiency fracture risk 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2012;64(11):3649-3659.
Glucocorticoid (GC) therapy is associated with increased fracture risk in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. To elucidate the cause of this increased risk, we examined the effects of chronic inflammatory-erosive arthritis and GC treatment on bone quality, structure, and biomechanical properties in a murine model.
Transgenic mice expressing human TNF-α-transgene (TNF-tg) with established arthritis and wild-type (WT) littermates were continually treated with GC (subcutaneous prednisolone controlled-release pellet; 5 mg/kg/day) or placebo for 14, 28 and 42 days. Microstructure, biomechanical properties, chemical composition, and morphology of tibiae and lumbar vertebral bodies were assessed by micro-CT, biomechanical testing, Raman spectroscopy, and histology, respectively. Serum markers of bone turnover were also determined.
TNF-tg and GC treatment additively decreased mechanical strength and stiffness in both tibiae and vertebral bodies. GC treatment in the TNF-tg mice increased the ductility of tibiae under torsional loading. These changes were associated with significant alterations in the biochemical and structural composition of the mineral and organic components of the bone matrix, a decrease in osteoblast activity and bone formation, and an increase in osteoclastic activity.
Our findings indicate that the concomitant decrease in bone strength and increase in ductility associated with chronic inflammation and GC therapy, coupled with the significant changes in the bone quality and structure, may increase the susceptibility of the bone to failure under low energy loading. This may explain the mechanism of symptomatic insufficiency fractures in patients with RA receiving GC therapy without radiographic manifestation of fracture.
PMCID: PMC3678247  PMID: 22832945
Glucocorticoid; Rheumatoid Arthritis; Bone Quality; Degree of Mineralization
13.  Upregulated miR-146a expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from rheumatoid arthritis patients 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2008;10(4):R101.
MicroRNAs are small noncoding RNA molecules that negatively regulate gene expression via degradation or translational repression of their targeted mRNAs. It is known that aberrant microRNA expression can play important roles in cancer, but the role of microRNAs in autoimmune diseases is only beginning to emerge. In this study, the expression of selected microRNAs is examined in rheumatoid arthritis.
Total RNA was isolated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells obtained from patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and healthy and disease control individuals, and the expression of miR-146a, miR-155, miR-132, miR-16, and microRNA let-7a was analyzed using quantitative real-time PCR.
Rheumatoid arthritis peripheral blood mononuclear cells exhibited between 1.8-fold and 2.6-fold increases in miR-146a, miR-155, miR-132, and miR-16 expression, whereas let-7a expression was not significantly different compared with healthy control individuals. In addition, two targets of miR-146a, namely tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6) and IL-1 receptor-associated kinase 1 (IRAK-1), were similarly expressed between rheumatoid arthritis patients and control individuals, despite increased expression of miR-146a in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Repression of TRAF6 and/or IRAK-1 in THP-1 cells resulted in up to an 86% reduction in tumor necrosis factor-α production, implicating that normal miR-146a function is critical for the regulation of tumor necrosis factor-α production.
Recent studies have shown that synovial tissue and synovial fibroblasts from patients with rheumatoid arthritis exhibit increased expression of certain microRNAs. Our data thus demonstrate that microRNA expression in rheumatoid arthritis peripheral blood mononuclear cells mimics that of synovial tissue/fibroblasts. The increased microRNA expression in rheumatoid arthritis patients is potentially useful as a marker for disease diagnosis, progression, or treatment efficacy, but this will require confirmation using a large and well defined cohort. Our data also suggest a possible mechanism contributing to rheumatoid arthritis pathogenesis, whereby miR-146a expression is increased but unable to properly function, leading to prolonged tumor necrosis factor-α production in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
PMCID: PMC2575615  PMID: 18759964
14.  miR-221/222 Targets Adiponectin Receptor 1 to Promote the Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition in Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66502.
The epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a highly conserved physiological program involved in development and tissue repair; however, its aberrant activation has been implicated in accelerating the progression of a variety of cancers. In breast cancer, the microRNAs (miRNAs) miR-221 and miR-222 (miR-221/222) are differentially expressed in the clinically more aggressive basal-like subtype compared to luminal subtype of breast cancer and upregulation of miR-221/222 induces the EMT by targeting the 3′ untranslated region (3′UTR) of the GATA family transcriptional repressor TRPS1 (tricho-rhino-phalangeal syndrome type 1). The complete mechanism through which miR-221/222 promotes the EMT, however, is not fully understood. We identified adiponectin receptor 1 (ADIPOR1), a receptor for the adipocytokine adiponectin, as a direct target of miR-221/222. ADIPOR1 is expressed at higher levels in the luminal compared to the basal-like subtype of breast cancer cell lines, which can be reduced by miR-221/222 targeting of its 3’UTR. In addition, miR-221/222 were negatively correlated with ADIPOR1 expression across breast cancer cell lines and tumors. ADIPOR1 depletion by siRNA in MCF10A cells induced the EMT and increased cell invasion. Depletion of ADIPOR1 by siRNA induced activation of the canonical nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB) and subsequent phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) in an interleukin 6 (IL6)-dependent manner. Finally, overexpression of ADIPOR1 in the basal-like cell line, MDA-MB-231, attenuated cell invasion and promoted the mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET). We conclude that ADIPOR1 negatively regulates EMT in breast cancer and provides an additional node by which miR-221/222 induces the EMT. These results suggest that ADIPOR1 may play an important role in breast cancer progression and metastasis, and could potentially offer an alternative therapeutic strategy for basal-like breast cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC3679042  PMID: 23776679
15.  miR221/222 in Cancer: Their Role in Tumor Progression and Response to Therapy 
Current molecular medicine  2012;12(1):27-33.
MiRNAs are small non-coding RNAs of ~24 nt that can block mRNA translation and/or negatively regulate its stability. There is a large body of evidence that dysregulation of miRNAs is a hallmark of cancer. miRNAs are often aberrantly expressed and their function is linked to the regulation of oncogenes and/or tumor suppressor genes involved in cell signaling pathway. MiR-221 and miR-222 are two highly homologous microRNAs, whose upregulation has been recently described in several types of human tumors. MiR-221/222 have been considered to act as oncogenes or tumor suppressors, depending on tumor system. Silencing oncomiRs or gene therapy approaches, based on re-expression of miRNAs that are down-regulated in cancer cells, could represent a novel anti-tumor approach for integrated cancer therapy. Here we will review the role of miR-221/222 in cancer progression and their use as prognostic and therapeutic tools in cancer.
PMCID: PMC3673714  PMID: 22082479
microRNA; cancer; cancer therpay
16.  MicroRNA-221-222 Regulate the Cell-Cycle in Mast Cells 
MicroRNAs constitute a large family of small non-coding RNAs that have emerged as key post-transcriptional regulators in a wide variety of organisms. Because any one miRNA can potentially regulate expression of a distinct set of genes, differential miRNA expression can shape the repertoire of proteins that are actually expressed during development, differentiation or disease. Here, we have used mast cells as a model to investigate the role of miRNAs in differentiated innate immune cells, and found that miR-221-222 are significantly up-regulated upon mast cell activation. Using both bioinformatics and experimental approaches, we identified some signaling pathways, transcription factors and potential cis-regulatory regions that control miR-221-222 transcription. Overexpression of miR-221-222 in a model mast cell-line perturbed cell morphology and cell cycle regulation without altering viability. While in stimulated cells miR-221-222 partially counteracted expression of the cell-cycle inhibitor p27kip1, we found that in the mouse alternative splicing results in two p27kip1 mRNA isoforms that differ in their 3′ UTR, only one of which is subject to miR-221-222 regulation. In addition, transgenic expression of miR-221-222 from BAC clones in embryonic stem cells dramatically reduced cell-proliferation and severely impaired their accumulation. Our study provides further insights on miR-221-222 transcriptional regulation as well as evidences that miR-221-222 regulates cell-cycle checkpoints in mast cells in response to acute activation stimuli.
PMCID: PMC2610349  PMID: 19109175
cell cycle; mast cells; microRNAs; transcription; proliferation
17.  MicroRNAs 221 and 222 Bypass Quiescence and Compromise Cell Survival 
Cancer research  2008;68(8):2773-2780.
MicroRNAs (miRNA) have tumor suppressive and oncogenic potential in human cancer, but whether and how miRNAs control cell cycle progression is not understood. To address this question, we carried out a comprehensive analysis of miRNA expression during serum stimulation of quiescent human cells. Time course analyses revealed that four miRNAs are up-regulated and >100 miRNAs are down-regulated, as cells progress beyond the G1-S phase transition. We analyzed the function of two up-regulated miRNAs (miR-221 and miR-222) that are both predicted to target the cell growth suppressive cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors p27 and p57. Our results show that miR-221 and miR-222 both directly target the 3′ untranslated regions of p27 and p57 mRNAs to reduce reporter gene expression, as well as diminish p27 and p57 protein levels. Functional studies show that miR-221 and miR-222 prevent quiescence when elevated during growth factor deprivation and induce precocious S-phase entry, thereby triggering cell death. Thus, the physiologic upregulation of miR-221 and miR-222 is tightly linked to a cell cycle checkpoint that ensures cell survival by coordinating competency for initiation of S phase with growth factor signaling pathways that stimulate cell proliferation.
PMCID: PMC3613850  PMID: 18413744
18.  Effects of MRP8, LPS, and Lenalidomide on the Expressions of TNF-α, Brain-Enriched, and Inflammation-Related MicroRNAs in the Primary Astrocyte Culture 
The Scientific World Journal  2013;2013:208309.
Astrocytes are now recognized as a heterogeneous class of cells with many important and diverse functions in healthy and diseased central nervous system (CNS). MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, noncoding RNAs which may have key roles in astrocytes activation in response to various stimuli. We performed quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) to detect changes in the expressions of brain-enriched miRNAs (124, 134, 9, 132, and 138), inflammation-related miRNAs (146a, 21, 181a, 221, and 222), and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) in the rat primary astrocyte cultures after stimulation with myeloid-related protein 8 (MRP8) and lipopolysaccharides (LPS). Further, we inhibited the expression of TNF-α in the astrocytes by using TNF-α inhibitor (lenalidomide) and tested for the first time the effect of this inhibition on the expressions of the same tested miRNAs. Stimulation of the astrocytes with MRP8 or LPS leads to significant upregulation of miRNAs (124, 134, 9, 132, 146a, 21, 181a, 221, and 222), while miRNA-138 was downregulated. TNF-α inhibition with lenalidomide leads to opposite expressions of the tested miRNAs. These miRNAs may play an important role in activation of the astrocytes and may be a novel target for cell-specific therapeutic interventions in multiple CNS diseases.
PMCID: PMC3793319  PMID: 24170980
19.  Dysregulation of miRNAs and their potential as biomarkers for the diagnosis of gastric cancer 
Biomedical Reports  2013;1(6):907-912.
Recent studies demonstrated that microRNA (miRNA) expression is dysregulated in numerous human cancers. In this study, we investigated the expression patterns of 8 miRNAs in gastric cancer and evaluated their clinical significance in order to identify potential biomarkers for gastric cancer diagnosis. Total RNA was extracted from gastric cancer and normal tissues from 20 pairs of paraffin-embedded specimens. The expression levels of the miRNAs were detected by quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction using specific stem-loop primers, with U6 as the internal reference gene. The association between miRNA expression level and clinicopathological factors was investigated. The expression of miR-21, -103, -106a, -221 and -222 in gastric cancer samples was significantly higher compared to that in the paired normal samples. Conversely, the expression of miR-143 and -195 in cancer tissues was significantly lower compared to that in normal tissues. However, miR-126 exhibited no difference between gastric cancer and normal tissues. A multivariate analysis demonstrated that the expression of miR-143 and -195 were associated with clinicopathological parameters, including depth of invasion and lymph node metastasis. This association may be applicable to future decisions regarding treatment or as a diagnostic biomarker.
PMCID: PMC3916995  PMID: 24649051
miRNA; gastric cancer; clinical significance; biomarker
20.  Deep Sequencing of Chicken microRNAs 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:185.
The use of new, deep sequencing technologies has greatly accelerated microRNA discovery. We have applied this approach to the identification of chicken microRNAs and to the comparison of microRNAs in chicken embryo fibroblasts (CEF) infected with Marek's disease virus (MDV) to those present in uninfected CEF.
We obtained 125,463 high quality reads that showed an exact match to the chicken genome. The majority of the reads corresponded to previously annotated chicken microRNAs; however, the sequences of many potential novel microsRNAs were obtained. A comparison of the reads obtained in MDV-infected and uninfected CEF indicates that infection does not significantly perturb the expression profile of microRNAs. Frequently sequenced microRNAs include miR-221/222, which are thought to play a role in growth and proliferation. A number of microRNAs (e.g., let-7, miR-199a-1, 26a) are expressed at lower levels in MDV-induced tumors, highlighting the potential importance of this class of molecules in tumorigenesis.
Deep sequencing technology is highly suited for small RNA discovery. This approach is independent of comparative sequence analysis, which has been the primary method used to identify chicken microRNAs. Our results have confirmed the expression of many microRNAs identified by sequence similarity and identified a pool of candidate novel microRNAs.
PMCID: PMC2375912  PMID: 18430245
21.  miR-21, miR-221 and miR-222 expression and prostate cancer recurrence among obese and non-obese cases 
Asian Journal of Andrology  2013;15(2):226-230.
Recent evidence shows that certain microRNAs (miRNAs) play a role in both obesity and prostate cancer recurrence, but the association between the expression of these miRNAs and obesity in prostate cancer recurrence is unknown. In this study, we examined the effect of the interaction between obesity and miR-21, miR-221 or miR-222 expression on prostate cancer recurrence among 28 recurrent and 37 non-recurrent prostate cancer cases. miRNA expression was determined using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Cox proportional hazard models adjusting for age at diagnosis, clinical stage and Gleason score were used to estimate hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for recurrence free survival. A significantly (P=0.014) higher proportion of recurrent cases (78.6%) than non-recurrent cases (48.6%) had a low expression of miR-21 and the difference was more prominent in obese than non-obese patients. Multivariate analysis showed that the expression of miR-21 was an independent risk factor for recurrence in obese (HR=6.15, 95% CI=1.04–36.48, P=0.045), but not in non-obese (HR=1.28, 95% CI=0.30–5.49, P=0.74) cases. A significant association with recurrence was not observed for the expression of miR-221 and miR-222. In summary, our findings show that miR-21 is associated with prostate cancer recurrence after radical prostatectomy and suggest that the differential expression of miR-21 is more prominent in obese than in non-obese cases. Future larger studies are warranted to confirm these initial findings and to elucidate the mechanisms involved.
PMCID: PMC3705740  PMID: 23353719
miR-21; miR-221; miR-222; miRNA; obesity; prostate carcinoma; recurrence
22.  A necessary role of miR-221 and miR-222 in vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation and neointimal hyperplasia 
Circulation research  2009;104(4):476-487.
MicroRNAs comprise a novel class of endogenous, small, noncoding RNAs that negatively regulate gene expression. Functionally, an individual miRNA is as important as a transcription factor because it is able to regulate the expression of its multiple target genes. Recently, miR-221 and miR-222 have been found to play a critical role in cancer cell proliferation. However, their roles in vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) biology are currently unknown. In the current study, the time course changes and cellular distribution of miR-221 and miR-222 expression were identified in rat carotid arteries after angioplasty, in which their expression was upregulated and localized in VSMCs in the injured vascular walls. In cultured VSMCs, miR-221 and miR-222 expression was increased by growth stimulators. Knockdown of miR-221 and miR-222 resulted in decreased VSMC proliferation in vitro. Using both gain-of-function and loss-of-function approaches, we found that p27(Kip1) and p57(Kip2) were two target genes that were involved in miR-221 and miR-222-mediated effect on VSMC growth. Finally, knockdown of miR-221 and miR-222 in rat carotid arteries suppressed VSMC proliferation in vivo and neointimal lesion formation after angioplasty. The results indicate that miR-221 and miR-222 are novel regulators for VSMC proliferation and neointimal hyperplasia. These findings may also represent promising therapeutic targets in proliferative vascular diseases.
PMCID: PMC2728290  PMID: 19150885
MicroRNAs; vascular smooth muscle cells; gene regulation; proliferation; vascular disease
23.  MicroRNA-221/222 confers breast cancer fulvestrant resistance by regulating multiple signaling pathways 
Oncogene  2010;30(9):1082-1097.
Fulvestrant is a selective estrogen receptor downregulator (SERD) and highly effective antagonist to hormone-sensitive breast cancers following failure of previous tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitor therapies. However, after prolonged fulvestrant therapy, acquired resistance eventually occurs in the majority of breast cancer patients, due to poorly understood mechanisms. To examine a possible role(s) of aberrantly expressed microRNAs (miRNAs) in acquired fulvestrant resistance, we compared antiestrogen-resistant and -sensitive breast cancer cells, revealing the over-expression of miR-221/222 in the SERD-resistant cell lines. Fulvestrant treatment of estradiol (E2)- and fulvestrant-sensitive MCF7 cells resulted in increased expression of endogenous miR-221/222. Ectopic upregulation of miR-221/222 in estrogen receptor-α (ERα)-positive cell lines counteracted the effects of E2 depletion or fulvestrant-induced cell death, thus also conferring hormone-independent growth and fulvestrant resistance. In cells with acquired resistance to fulvestrant, miR-221/222 expression was essential for cell growth and cell cycle progression. To identify possible miR-221/222 targets, miR-221- or miR-222- induced alterations in global gene expression profiles and target gene expression at distinct time points were determined, revealing that miR-221/222 overexpression resulted in deregulation of multiple oncogenic signaling pathways previously associated with drug resistance. Activation of β-catenin by miR-221/222 contributed to estrogen-independent growth and fulvestrant resistance, whereas TGF-β-mediated growth inhibition was repressed by the two miRNAs. This first in-depth investigation into the role of miR-221/222 in acquired fulvestrant resistance, a clinically important problem, demonstrates that these two ‘oncomirs’ may represent promising therapeutic targets for treating hormone-independent, SERD-resistant breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3342929  PMID: 21057537
microRNAs; breast cancer; antiestrogen; drug resistance; fulvestrant
24.  Ago2 Immunoprecipitation Identifies Predicted MicroRNAs in Human Embryonic Stem Cells and Neural Precursors 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(9):e7192.
MicroRNAs are required for maintenance of pluripotency as well as differentiation, but since more microRNAs have been computationally predicted in genome than have been found, there are likely to be undiscovered microRNAs expressed early in stem cell differentiation.
Methodology/Principal Findings
SOLiD ultra-deep sequencing identified >107 unique small RNAs from human embryonic stem cells (hESC) and neural-restricted precursors that were fit to a model of microRNA biogenesis to computationally predict 818 new microRNA genes. These predicted genomic loci are associated with chromatin patterns of modified histones that are predictive of regulated gene expression. 146 of the predicted microRNAs were enriched in Ago2-containing complexes along with 609 known microRNAs, demonstrating association with a functional RISC complex. This Ago2 IP-selected subset was consistently expressed in four independent hESC lines and exhibited complex patterns of regulation over development similar to previously-known microRNAs, including pluripotency-specific expression in both hESC and iPS cells. More than 30% of the Ago2 IP-enriched predicted microRNAs are new members of existing families since they share seed sequences with known microRNAs.
Extending the classic definition of microRNAs, this large number of new microRNA genes, the majority of which are less conserved than their canonical counterparts, likely represent evolutionarily recent regulators of early differentiation. The enrichment in Ago2 containing complexes, the presence of chromatin marks indicative of regulated gene expression, and differential expression over development all support the identification of 146 new microRNAs active during early hESC differentiation.
PMCID: PMC2745660  PMID: 19784364
25.  Therapy-, Gender- and Race-specific microRNA Markers, Target Genes and Networks Related to Glioblastoma Recurrence and Survival 
Cancer genomics & proteomics  2011;8(4):173-183.
To identify and study targets of microRNA biomarkers of glioblastoma survival across events (death and recurrence) and phases (life expectancy or post-diagnostic) using functional and network analyses.
Materials and Methods
microRNAs associated with glioblastoma survival within and across race, gender, recurrence, and therapy cohorts were identified using 253 individuals, 534 microRNAs, Cox survival model, cross-validation, discriminant analyses, and cross-study comparison.
All 45 microRNAs revealed were confirmed in independent cancer studies and 25 in glioblastoma studies. Thirty-nine and six microRNAs (including hsa-miR-222) were associated with one and multiple glioblastoma survival indicators, respectively. Nineteen and 26 microRNAs exhibited cohort-dependent (including hsa-miR-10b with therapy and hsa-miR-486 with race) and independent associations with glioblastoma, respectively.
Sensory perception and G protein-coupled receptor processes were enriched among microRNA gene targets also associated with survival and network visualization highlighted their relations. These findings can help to improve prognostic tools and personalized treatments.
PMCID: PMC3321577  PMID: 21737610
Glioblastoma; microRNA; biomarkers; hazard; clinical cohort; gender; race

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