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1.  The Role of miR-103 and miR-107 in Regulation of CDK5R1 Expression and in Cellular Migration 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e20038.
CDK5R1 encodes p35, a specific activator of the serine/threonine kinase CDK5, which plays crucial roles in CNS development and maintenance. CDK5 activity strongly depends on p35 levels and p35/CDK5 misregulation is deleterious for correct CNS function, suggesting that a tightly controlled regulation of CDK5R1 expression is needed for proper CDK5 activity. Accordingly, CDK5R1 expression was demonstrated to be controlled at both transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels, but a possible regulation through microRNAs (miRNAs) has never been investigated. We predicted, within the large CDK5R1 3′UTR several miRNA target sites. Among them, we selected for functional studies miR-103 and miR-107, whose expression has shown a strong inverse correlation with p35 levels in different cell lines. A significant reduction of CDK5R1 mRNA and p35 levels was observed after transfection of SK-N-BE neuroblastoma cells with the miR-103 or miR-107 precursor (pre-miR-103 or pre-miR-107). Conversely, p35 levels significantly increased following transfection of the corresponding antagonists (anti-miR-103 or anti-miR-107). Moreover, the level of CDK5R1 transcript shifts from the polysomal to the subpolysomal mRNA fraction after transfection with pre-miR-107 and, conversely, from the subpolysomal to the polysolmal mRNA fraction after transfection with anti-miR-107, suggesting a direct action on translation efficiency. We demonstrate, by means of luciferase assays, that miR-103 and miR-107 are able to directly interact with the CDK5R1 3′-UTR, in correspondence of a specific target site. Finally, miR-103 and miR-107 overexpression, as well as CDK5R1 silencing, caused a reduction in SK-N-BE migration ability, indicating that these miRNAs affect neuronal migration by modulating CDK5R1 expression. These findings indicate that miR-103 and miR-107 regulate CDK5R1 expression, allowing us to hypothesize that a miRNA-mediated mechanism may influence CDK5 activity and the associated molecular pathways.
PMCID: PMC3100319  PMID: 21625387
2.  miR-29b induces SOCS-1 expression by promoter demethylation and negatively regulates migration of multiple myeloma and endothelial cells 
Cell Cycle  2013;12(23):3650-3662.
Epigenetic silencing of tumor suppressor genes frequently occurs and may account for their inactivation in cancer cells. We previously demonstrated that miR-29b is a tumor suppressor microRNA (miRNA) that targets de novo DNA methyltransferases and reduces the global DNA methylation of multiple myeloma (MM) cells. Here, we provide evidence that epigenetic activity of miR-29b leads to promoter demethylation of suppressor of cytokine signaling-1 (SOCS-1), a hypermethylated tumor suppressor gene. Enforced expression of synthetic miR-29b mimics in MM cell lines resulted in SOCS-1 gene promoter demethylation, as assessed by Sequenom MassARRAY EpiTYPER analysis, and SOCS-1 protein upregulation. miR-29b-induced SOCS-1 demethylation was associated with reduced STAT3 phosphorylation and impaired NFκB activity. Downregulation of VEGF-A and IL-8 mRNAs could be detected in MM cells transfected with miR-29b mimics as well as in endothelial (HUVEC) or stromal (HS-5) cells treated with conditioned medium from miR-29b-transfected MM cells. Notably, enforced expression of miR-29b mimics increased adhesion of MM cells to HS-5 and reduced migration of both MM and HUVEC cells. These findings suggest that miR-29b is a negative regulator of either MM or endothelial cell migration. Finally, the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib, which induces the expression of miR-29b, decreased global DNA methylation by a miR-29b-dependent mechanism and induced SOCS-1 promoter demethylation and protein upregulation. In conclusion, our data indicate that miR-29b is endowed with epigenetic activity and mediates previously unknown functions of bortezomib in MM cells.
PMCID: PMC3903716  PMID: 24091729
miR-29b; epi-miRNA; microRNA; multiple myeloma; methylation
3.  miR-29b sensitizes multiple myeloma cells to bortezomib-induced apoptosis through the activation of a feedback loop with the transcription factor Sp1 
Cell Death & Disease  2012;3(11):e436-.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) with tumor-suppressor potential might have therapeutic applications in multiple myeloma (MM) through the modulation of still undiscovered molecular pathways. Here, we investigated the effects of enforced expression of miR-29b on the apoptotic occurrence in MM and highlighted its role in the context of a new transcriptional loop that is finely tuned by the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib. In details, in vitro growth inhibition and apoptosis of MM cells was induced by either transient expression of synthetic miR-29b or its stable lentivirus-enforced expression. We identified Sp1, a transcription factor endowed with oncogenic activity, as a negative regulator of miR-29b expression in MM cells. Since Sp1 expression and functions are regulated via the 26S proteasome, we investigated the effects of bortezomib on miR-29b-Sp1 loop, showing that miR-29b levels were indeed upregulated by the drug. At the same time, the bortezomib/miR-29b combination produced significant pro-apoptotic effects. We also demonstrated that the PI3K/AKT pathway plays a major role in the regulation of miR-29b-Sp1 loop and induction of apoptosis in MM cells. Finally, MM xenografts constitutively expressing miR-29b showed significant reduction of their tumorigenic potential. Our findings indicate that miR-29b is involved in a regulatory loop amenable of pharmacologic intervention and modulates the anti-MM activity of bortezomib in MM cells.
PMCID: PMC3542610  PMID: 23190608
multiple myeloma; plasma cell leukemia; miR-29b; microRNA; miRNAs; Sp1; bortezomib
4.  Epigenetic inactivation of the MIR129-2 in hematological malignancies 
MIR129-2 has been shown to be a tumor suppressor microRNA hypermethylated in epithelial cancers.
Patients and methods
Epigenetic inactivation of MIR129-2 was studied by methylation-specific PCR (MSP) in 13 cell lines (eight myeloma and five lymphoma), 15 normal controls and 344 primary samples including acute myeloid leukemia (AML), acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), multiple myeloma (MM) at diagnosis, MM at relapse/progression, and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). Expression of MIR129 and its target, SOX4, in cell lines was measured before and after hypomethylating treatment and MIR129 overexpression. MIR129 expression was correlated with MIR129-2 methylation status in primary lymphoma samples. Tumor suppressor function of MIR129 was demonstrated by MTT and trypan blue exclusion assay after MIR129 overexpression.
The sensitivity of the methylated-MSP was one in 103. Different MSP statuses, including complete methylation, partial methylation, and complete unmethylation, were verified by quantitative bisulfite pyrosequencing. All five lymphoma and seven of eight myeloma cell lines showed complete and partial MIR129-2 methylation. In primary samples, MIR129-2 methylation was absent in AML and CML, but detected in 5% ALL, 45.9% CLL, 49.5% MM at diagnosis, and 59.1% NHL. In CLL, MIR129-2 methylation adversely impacted on survival (p=0.004). In MM, MIR129-2 methylation increased from 27.5% MGUS to 49.5% MM at diagnosis and 41.5% at relapse/progression (p=0.023). In NHL, MIR129-2 methylation was associated with MIR124-1 and MIR203 methylation (p<0.001), and lower MIR129 expression (p=0.009). Hypomethylation treatment of JEKO-1, homozygously methylated for MIR129-2, led to MIR129-2 demethylation and MIR129 re-expression, with downregulation of SOX4 mRNA. Moreover, MIR129 overexpression in both mantle cell lines, JEKO-1 and GRANTA-519, inhibited cellular proliferation and enhanced cell death, with concomitant SOX4 mRNA downregulation.
MIR129-2 is a tumor suppressive microRNA frequently methylated in lymphoid but not myeloid malignancies, leading to reversible MIR129-2 silencing. In CLL, MIR129-2 methylation was associated with an inferior survival. In MM, MIR129-2 methylation might be acquired during progression from MGUS to symptomatic MM. In NHL, MIR129-2 methylation might collaborate with MIR124-1 and MIR203 methylation in lymphomagenesis.
PMCID: PMC3576298  PMID: 23406679
microRNA; Tumor suppressor; Hypermethylation; MIR129; Hematological cancers
5.  A component of the mir-17-92 polycistronic oncomir promotes oncogene-dependent apoptosis 
eLife  2013;2:e00822.
mir-17-92, a potent polycistronic oncomir, encodes six mature miRNAs with complex modes of interactions. In the Eμ-myc Burkitt’s lymphoma model, mir-17-92 exhibits potent oncogenic activity by repressing c-Myc-induced apoptosis, primarily through its miR-19 components. Surprisingly, mir-17-92 also encodes the miR-92 component that negatively regulates its oncogenic cooperation with c-Myc. This miR-92 effect is, at least in part, mediated by its direct repression of Fbw7, which promotes the proteosomal degradation of c-Myc. Thus, overexpressing miR-92 leads to aberrant c-Myc increase, imposing a strong coupling between excessive proliferation and p53-dependent apoptosis. Interestingly, miR-92 antagonizes the oncogenic miR-19 miRNAs; and such functional interaction coordinates proliferation and apoptosis during c-Myc-induced oncogenesis. This miR-19:miR-92 antagonism is disrupted in B-lymphoma cells that favor a greater increase of miR-19 over miR-92. Altogether, we suggest a new paradigm whereby the unique gene structure of a polycistronic oncomir confers an intricate balance between oncogene and tumor suppressor crosstalk.
eLife digest
The role of genes, in very simple terms, is to be transcribed into messenger RNA molecules, which are then translated into strings of amino acids that fold into proteins. Each of these steps is extremely complex, and a wide range of other molecules can speed up, slow down, stop or otherwise disrupt the expression of genes as protein products. Genes can also code for nucleic acids that are not translated into proteins, such as microRNAs. These are small RNA molecules that can reduce the production of proteins by repressing the translation step and/or by partially degrading the messenger RNA molecules.
mir-17-92 is a gene that exemplifies much of this complexity. It codes for six different microRNAs in a single primary transcript, and has been implicated in a number of cancers, including lung cancer, Burkitt’s lymphoma and other forms of lymphomas and leukemia. One of six microRNAs has a longer evolutionary history than the remaining five: mir-92 is found in vertebrates, chordates and invertebrates, whereas the other five are only found in vertebrates. However, it is not known how or why the mir-17-92 gene evolved to code for multiple different microRNAs.
Olive et al. have studied how these mir-17-92 microRNAs functionally interact in mice with Burkitt’s lymphoma, a form of cancer that is associated with a gene called c-Myc being over-activated. Mutations in this gene promote the proliferation of cells, and in cooperation with other genetic lesions, this ultimately leads to cancer. mir-17-92 is implicated in this cancer because it represses the process of programmed cell death (which is induced by the protein c-Myc) that the body employs to stop tumors growing.
Olive et al. found that deleting one of the six microRNAs, miR-92, increased the tendency of the mir-17-92 gene to promote Burkitt’s lymphoma. By repressing an enzyme called Fbw7, miR-92 causes high levels of c-Myc to be produced. While this leads to the uncontrolled proliferation of cells that promotes cancer, it also increases programmed cell death, at least in part, by activating the p53 pathway, a well-known tumor suppression pathway. The experiments also revealed that the action of miR-92 and that of one of the other microRNAs, miR-19, were often opposed to each other. These findings have revealed an unexpected interaction among different components within a single microRNA gene, which acts to maintain an intricate balance between pathways that promote and suppress cancer.
PMCID: PMC3796314  PMID: 24137534
microRNAs; c-Myc; Eμ-myc lymphoma; apoptosis; p53; Mouse
6.  Ectopic MicroRNA-150-5p Transcription Sensitizes Glucocorticoid Therapy Response in MM1S Multiple Myeloma Cells but Fails to Overcome Hormone Therapy Resistance in MM1R Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e113842.
Glucocorticoids (GCs) selectively trigger cell death in the multiple myeloma cell line MM1S which express NR3C1/Glucocorticoid Receptor (GR) protein, but fail to kill MM1R cells which lack GR protein. Given recent demonstrations of altered microRNA profiles in a diverse range of haematological malignancies and drug resistance, we characterized GC inducible mRNA and microRNA transcription profiles in GC sensitive MM1S as compared to GC resistant MM1R cells. Transcriptome analysis revealed that GCs regulate expression of multiple genes involved in cell cycle control, cell organization, cell death and immunological disease in MM1S cells, which remain unaffected in MM1R cells. With respect to microRNAs, mir-150-5p was identified as the most time persistent GC regulated microRNA, out of 5 QPCR validated microRNAs (mir-26b, mir-125a-5p, mir-146-5p, mir-150-5p, and mir-184), which are GC inducible in MM1S but not in MM1R cells. Functional studies further revealed that ectopic transfection of a synthetic mir-150-5p mimics GR dependent gene expression changes involved in cell death and cell proliferation pathways. Remarkably, despite the gene expression changes observed, overexpression of mir-150-5p in absence of GCs did not trigger significant cytotoxicity in MM1S or MM1R cells. This suggests the requirement of additional steps in GC induced cell death, which can not be mimicked by mir-150-5p overexpression alone. Interestingly, a combination of mir-150-5p transfection with low doses GC in MM1S cells was found to sensitize therapy response, whereas opposite effects could be observed with a mir-150-5p specific antagomir. Although mir-150-5p overexpression did not substantially change GR expression levels, it was found that mir-150-5p evokes GR specific effects through indirect mRNA regulation of GR interacting transcription factors and hormone receptors, GR chaperones, as well as various effectors of unfolded protein stress and chemokine signalling. Altogether GC-inducible mir-150-5p adds another level of regulation to GC specific therapeutic responses in multiple myeloma.
PMCID: PMC4256227  PMID: 25474406
7.  MicroRNA-7 Inhibits Multiple Oncogenic Pathways to Suppress HER2Δ16 Mediated Breast Tumorigenesis and Reverse Trastuzumab Resistance 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e114419.
The oncogenic isoform of HER2, HER2Δ16, is expressed with HER2 in nearly 50% of HER2 positive breast tumors where HER2Δ16 drives metastasis and resistance to multiple therapeutic interventions including tamoxifen and trastuzumab. In recent years microRNAs have been shown to influence multiple aspects of tumorigenesis and tumor cell response to therapy. Accordingly, the HER2Δ16 oncogene alters microRNA expression to promote endocrine resistance. With the goal of identifying microRNA suppressors of HER2Δ16 oncogenic activity we investigated the contribution of altered microRNA expression to HER2Δ16 mediated tumorigenesis and trastuzumab resistance. Using a gene array strategy comparing microRNA expression profiles of MCF-7 to MCF-7/HER2Δ16 cells, we found that expression of HER2Δ16 significantly altered expression of 16 microRNAs by 2-fold or more including a 4.8 fold suppression of the miR-7 tumor suppressor. Reestablished expression of miR-7 in the MCF-7/HER2Δ16 cell line caused a G1 cell cycle arrest and reduced both colony formation and cell migration activity to levels of parental MCF-7 cells. Suppression of miR-7 in the MCF-7 cell line resulted in enhanced colony formation activity but not cell migration, indicating that miR-7 suppression is sufficient to drive tumor cell proliferation but not migration. MiR-7 inhibited MCF-7/HER2Δ16 cell migration through a mechanism involving suppression of the miR-7 target gene EGFR. In contrast, miR-7 inhibition of MCF-7/HER2Δ16 cell proliferation involved a pathway where miR-7 expression resulted in the inactivation of Src kinase independent of suppressed EGFR expression. Also independent of EGFR suppression, reestablished miR-7 expression sensitized refractory MCF-7/HER2Δ16 cells to trastuzumab. Our results demonstrate that reestablished miR-7 expression abolishes HER2Δ16 induced cell proliferation and migration while sensitizing HER2Δ16 expressing cells to trastuzumab therapy. We propose that miR-7 regulated pathways, including EGFR and Src kinase, represent targets for the therapeutic intervention of refractory and metastatic HER2Δ16 driven breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC4273950  PMID: 25532106
8.  Epigenetic Inactivation of the miR-124-1 in Haematological Malignancies 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e19027.
miR-124-1 is a tumour suppressor microRNA (miR). Epigenetic deregulation of miRs is implicated in carcinogenesis. Promoter DNA methylation and histone modification of miR-124-1 was studied in 5 normal marrow controls, 4 lymphoma, 8 multiple myeloma (MM) cell lines, 230 diagnostic primary samples of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML), chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), MM, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), and 53 MM samples at stable disease or relapse. Promoter of miR-124-1 was unmethylated in normal controls but homozygously methylated in 4 of 4 lymphoma and 4 of 8 myeloma cell lines. Treatment of 5-Aza-2′-deoxycytidine led to miR-124-1 demethylation and re-expression of mature miR-124, which also associated with emergence of euchromatic trimethyl H3K4 and consequent downregulation of CDK6 in myeloma cells harboring homozygous miR-124-1 methylation. In primary samples at diagnosis, miR-124-1 methylation was absent in CML but detected in 2% each of MM at diagnosis and relapse/progression, 5% ALL, 15% AML, 14% CLL and 58.1% of NHL (p<0.001). Amongst lymphoid malignancies, miR-124-1 was preferentially methylated in NHL than MM, CLL or ALL. In primary lymphoma samples, miR-124-1 was preferentially hypermethylated in B- or NK/T-cell lymphomas and associated with reduced miR-124 expression. In conclusion, miR-124-1 was hypermethylated in a tumour-specific manner, with a heterochromatic histone configuration. Hypomethylation led to partial restoration of euchromatic histone code and miR re-expression. Infrequent miR-124-1 methylation detected in diagnostic and relapse MM samples showed an unimportant role in MM pathogenesis, despite frequent methylation found in cell lines. Amongst haematological cancers, miR-124-1 was more frequently hypermethylated in NHL, and hence warrants further study.
PMCID: PMC3081325  PMID: 21544199
9.  MiR-322/424 and -503 Are Induced during Muscle Differentiation and Promote Cell Cycle Quiescence and Differentiation by Down-Regulation of Cdc25A 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2010;21(13):2138-2149.
This article describes a novel role of Cdc25A down-regulation during differentiation of proliferating myoblasts.
Induction of a G1 phase cell cycle arrest, caused primarily by the inhibition of cyclin-dependent-kinase 2 (cdk2), is a critical step in the differentiation of myoblasts into myotubes. Here, we report that two microRNAs, miR-322/424 and miR-503, are induced and promote cdk2 inhibition during myogenesis. These microRNAs down-regulate Cdc25A, the phosphatase responsible for removing inhibitory phosphorylation of cdk2, both in myoblasts differentiating into myotubes and in nonmuscle cells. Cdc25A is down-regulated during muscle differentiation by multiple pathways: action of these two microRNAs, proteasomal degradation of Cdc25A protein and transcriptional repression. Overexpression of Cdc25A or of cdk2 with mutations on T14 and Y15 (cdk2-AF), so that it cannot be inhibited by phosphorylation, decreases differentiation and differentiation-induced cell cycle quiescence. Introduction of miR-322/424 and miR-503 in heterologous cancer cells induces G1 arrest, which is also attenuated by overexpression of the cdk2-AF mutant. Until now Cdc25A and the inhibitory phosphorylation on T14 and Y15 of cdk2 have only been implicated in the intra-S phase checkpoint pathway after DNA damage. Our results reveal an unexpected role of Cdc25A down-regulation and the inhibitory phosphorylation of cdk2 T14 and Y15 in cell cycle quiescence during muscle differentiation and implicate two muscle differentiation-induced microRNAs in the process.
PMCID: PMC2893979  PMID: 20462953
10.  Identification of circulating microRNAs as diagnostic biomarkers for use in multiple myeloma 
British Journal of Cancer  2012;107(12):1987-1996.
Multiple myeloma is a plasma cell disorder that is characterised by clonal proliferation of malignant plasma cells in the bone marrow, monoclonal paraprotein in the blood or urine and associated organ dysfunction. It accounts for approximately 1% of cancers and 13% of haematological cancers. Myeloma arises from an asymptomatic proliferation of monoclonal plasma cells termed monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS).
MicroRNA expression profiling of serum samples was performed on three patient groups as well as normal controls. Validation of the nine microRNAs detected as promising biomarkers was carried out using TaqMan quantitative reverse transcription PCR. MicroRNA levels in serum were normalised using standard curves to determine the numbers of microRNAs per μl of serum.
Three serum microRNAs, miR-720, miR-1308 and miR-1246, were found to have potential as diagnostic biomarkers in myeloma. Use of miR-720 and miR-1308 together provides a powerful diagnostic tool for distinguishing normal healthy controls, as well as patients with unrelated illnesses, from pre-cancerous myeloma and myeloma patients. In addition, the combination of miR-1246 and miR-1308 can distinguish MGUS from myeloma patients.
We have developed a biomarker signature using microRNAs extracted from serum, which has potential as a diagnostic and prognostic tool for multiple myeloma.
PMCID: PMC3516695  PMID: 23169280
myeloma; microRNAs; biomarkers; diagnostics; cleaved tRNA; serum miRNAs
11.  Integrative analysis of differential miRNA and functional study of miR-21 by seed-targeting inhibition in multiple myeloma cells in response to berberine 
BMC Systems Biology  2014;8:82.
Berberine is a natural alkaloid derived from a traditional Chinese herbal medicine. It is known to modulate microRNA (miRNA) levels, although the mechanism for this action is unknown. Here, we previously demonstrate that the expression of 87 miRNAs is differentially affected by berberine in multiple myeloma cells. Among 49 miRNAs that are down-regulated, nine act as oncomirs, including miR-21. Integrative analysis showed that 28 of the down-regulated miRNAs participate in tumor protein p53 (TP53) signaling and other cancer pathways. miR-21 is involved in all these pathways, and is one of the most important oncomirs to be affected by berberine in multiple myeloma cells.
We confirmed that berberine down-regulated miRNA-21 expression and significantly up-regulated the expression of programmed cell death 4 (PDCD4), a predicted miR-21 target. Luciferase reporter assays confirmed that PDCD4 was directly regulated by miR-21. Bioinformatic analysis revealed that the miR-21 promoter can be targeted by signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3). Down-regulation of interleukin 6 (IL6) by berberine might lead to inhibition of miR-21 transcription through STAT3 down-regulation in multiple myeloma. Furthermore, both berberine and seed-targeting anti-miR-21 oligonucleotide induced apoptosis, G2-phase cell cycle arrest and colony inhibition in multiple myeloma cell lines. Depletion of PDCD4 by short interfering RNA could rescue berberine-induced cytotoxicity in multiple myeloma cells.
Our results suggest that berberine suppresses multiple myeloma cell growth, at least in part, by down-regulating miR-21 levels possibly through IL6/STAT3. This led to increased PDCD4 expression, which is likely to result in suppression of the p53 signaling pathway. These findings may also provide new mechanistic insight into the anti-cancer effects of certain compounds in traditional Chinese herbal medicines.
PMCID: PMC4096730  PMID: 25000828
Berberine; miRNA-21; Multiple myeloma; Programmed cell death 4; Bioinformatic; Tumor protein p53; Cell cycle; Apoptosis
12.  Regulation of cyclin-dependent kinase 4 translation through CUG-binding protein 1 and microRNA-222 by polyamines 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2011;22(17):3055-3069.
The findings presented indicate that polyamine-regulated CUG-binding protein 1 and microRNA-222 modulate cyclin-dependent kinase 4 (CDK4) translation at least in part by altering the recruitment of CDK4 mRNA to processing bodies.
The amino acid–derived polyamines are organic cations that are essential for growth in all mammalian cells, but their exact roles at the molecular level remain largely unknown. Here we provide evidence that polyamines promote the translation of cyclin-dependent kinase 4 (CDK4) by the action of CUG-binding protein 1 (CUGBP1) and microRNA-222 (miR-222) in intestinal epithelial cells. Both CUGBP1 and miR-222 were found to bind the CDK4 mRNA coding region and 3′-untranslated region and repressed CDK4 translation synergistically. Depletion of cellular polyamines increased cytoplasmic CUGBP1 abundance and miR-222 levels, induced their associations with the CDK4 mRNA, and inhibited CDK4 translation, whereas increasing the levels of cellular polyamines decreased CDK4 mRNA interaction with CUGBP1 and miR-222, in turn inducing CDK4 expression. Polyamine-deficient cells exhibited an increased colocalization of tagged CDK4 mRNA with processing bodies; this colocalization was abolished by silencing CUGBP1 and miR-222. Together, our findings indicate that polyamine-regulated CUGBP1 and miR-222 modulate CDK4 translation at least in part by altering the recruitment of CDK4 mRNA to processing bodies.
PMCID: PMC3164454  PMID: 21737690
13.  Multiple myeloma cells alter the senescence phenotype of bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells under participation of the DLK1-DIO3 genomic region 
BMC Cancer  2015;15:68.
Alterations and senescence in bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells of multiple myeloma patients (MM-BMMSCs) have become an important research focus. However the role of senescence in the pathophysiology of MM is not clear.
Correlation between senescence, cell cycle and microRNA expression of MM-BMMSCs (n = 89) was analyzed. Gene expression analysis, copy number analysis and methylation specific PCR were performed by Real-Time PCR. Furthermore, cyclin E1, cyclin D1, p16 and p21 genes were analyzed at the protein level using ELISA. Cell cycle and senescence were analyzed by FACS. MiRNA transfection was performed with miR-485-5p inhibitor and mimic followed by downstream analysis of senescence and cell cycle characteristics of MM-BMMSCs. Results were analyzed by Mann–Whitney U test, Wilcoxon signed-rank test and paired t-test depending on the experimental set up.
MM-BMMSCs displayed increased senescence associated β-galactosidase activity (SA-βGalA), cell cycle arrest in S phase and overexpression of microRNAs. The overexpressed microRNAs miR-485-5p and miR-519d are located on DLK1-DIO3 and C19MC, respectively. Analyses revealed copy number accumulation and hypomethylation of both clusters. KMS12-PE myeloma cells decreased SA-βGalA and influenced cell cycle characteristics of MM-BMMSCs. MiR-485-5p was significantly decreased in co-cultured MM-BMMSCs in connection with an increased methylation of DLK1-DIO3. Modification of miR-485-5p levels using microRNA mimic or inhibitor altered senescence and cell cycle characteristics of MM-BMMSCs.
Here, we show for the first time that MM-BMMSCs have aberrant methylation and copy number of the DLK1-DIO3 and C19MC genomic region. Furthermore, this is the first study pointing that multiple myeloma cells in vitro reduce both the senescence phenotype of MM-BMMSCs and the expression of miR-223 and miR-485-5p. Thus, it is questionable whether senescence of MM-BMMSCs plays a pathological role in active multiple myeloma or is more important when cell interaction with myeloma cells is inhibited. Furthermore, we found that MiR-485-5p, which is located on the DLK1-DIO3 cluster, seems to participate in the regulation of senescence status and cell cycle characteristics of MM-BMMSCs. Thus, further exploration of the microRNAs of DLK1-DIO3 could provide further insights into the origin of the senescence state and its reversal in MM-BMMSCs.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12885-015-1078-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4336751
Multiple myeloma; Bone marrow stromal cells; Senescence; Cell cycle; DLK1-DIO3; miR-485-5p
14.  A high-content morphological screen identifies novel microRNAs that regulate neuroblastoma cell differentiation 
Oncotarget  2014;5(9):2499-2512.
Neuroblastoma, the most common extracranial solid tumor of childhood, arises from neural crest cell precursors that fail to differentiate. Inducing cell differentiation is an important therapeutic strategy for neuroblastoma. We developed a direct functional high-content screen to identify differentiation-inducing microRNAs, in order to develop microRNA-based differentiation therapy for neuroblastoma. We discovered novel microRNAs, and more strikingly, three microRNA seed families that induce neuroblastoma cell differentiation. In addition, we showed that microRNA seed families were overrepresented in the identified group of fourteen differentiation-inducing microRNAs, suggesting that microRNA seed families are functionally more important in neuroblastoma differentiation than microRNAs with unique sequences. We further investigated the differentiation-inducing function of the microRNA-506-3p/microRNA-124-3p seed family, which was the most potent inducer of differentiation. We showed that the differentiation-inducing function of microRNA-506-3p/microRNA-124-3p is mediated, at least partially, by down-regulating expression of their targets CDK4 and STAT3. We further showed that expression of miR-506-3p, but not miR-124-3p, is dramatically upregulated in differentiated neuroblastoma cells, suggesting the important role of endogenous miR-506-3p in differentiation and tumorigenesis. Overall, our functional screen on microRNAs provided the first comprehensive analysis on the involvements of microRNA species in neuroblastoma cell differentiation and identified novel differentiation-inducing microRNAs. Further investigations are certainly warranted to fully characterize the function of the identified microRNAs in order to eventually benefit neuroblastoma therapy.
PMCID: PMC4058022  PMID: 24811707
neuroblastoma; microRNA; high-content screen; differentiation; differentiation therapy
15.  mRNA turnover rate limits siRNA and microRNA efficacy 
Based on a simple model of the mRNA life cycle, we predict that mRNAs with high turnover rates in the cell are more difficult to perturb with RNAi.We test this hypothesis using a luciferase reporter system and obtain additional evidence from a variety of large-scale data sets, including microRNA overexpression experiments and RT–qPCR-based efficacy measurements for thousands of siRNAs.Our results suggest that mRNA half-lives will influence how mRNAs are differentially perturbed whenever small RNA levels change in the cell, not only after transfection but also during differentiation, pathogenesis and normal cell physiology.
What determines how strongly an mRNA responds to a microRNA or an siRNA? We know that properties of the sequence match between the small RNA and the mRNA are crucial. However, large-scale validations of siRNA efficacies have shown that certain transcripts remain recalcitrant to perturbation even after repeated redesign of the siRNA (Krueger et al, 2007). Weak response to RNAi may thus be an inherent property of the mRNA, but the underlying factors have proven difficult to uncover.
siRNAs induce degradation by sequence-specific cleavage of their target mRNAs (Elbashir et al, 2001). MicroRNAs, too, induce mRNA degradation, and ∼80% of their effect on protein levels can be explained by changes in transcript abundance (Hendrickson et al, 2009; Guo et al, 2010). Given that multiple factors act simultaneously to degrade individual mRNAs, we here consider whether variable responses to micro/siRNA regulation may, in part, be explained simply by the basic dynamics of mRNA turnover. If a transcript is already under strong destabilizing regulation, it is theoretically possible that the relative change in abundance after the addition of a novel degrading factor would be less pronounced compared with a stable transcript (Figure 1). mRNA turnover is achieved by a multitude of factors, and the influence of such factors on targetability can be explored. However, their combined action, including yet unknown factors, is summarized into a single property: the mRNA decay rate.
First, we explored the theoretical relationship between the pre-existing turnover rate of an mRNA, and its expected susceptibility to perturbation by a small RNA. We assumed a basic model of the mRNA life cycle, in which the rate of transcription is constant and the rate of degradation is described by first-order kinetics. Under this model, the relative change in steady-state expression level will become smaller as the pre-existing decay rate grows larger, independent of the transcription rate. This relationship persists also if we assume various degrees of synergy and antagonism between the pre-existing factors and the external factor, with increasing synergism leading to transcripts being more equally targetable, regardless of their pre-existing decay rate.
We next generated a series of four luciferase reporter constructs with destabilizing AU-rich elements (AREs) of various strengths incorporated into their 3′ UTRs. To evaluate how the different constructs would respond to perturbation, we performed co-transfections with an siRNA targeted at the coding region of the luciferase gene. This reduced the signal of the non-destabilized construct to 26% compared with a control siRNA. In contrast, the most destabilized construct showed 42% remaining reporter activity, and we could observe a dose–response relationship across the series.
The reporter experiment encouraged an investigation of this effect on real-world mRNAs. We analyzed a set of 2622 siRNAs, for which individual efficacies were determined using RT–qPCR 48 h post-transfection in HeLa cells ( Of these, 1778 could be associated with an experimentally determined decay rate (Figure 4A). Although the overall correlation between the two variables was modest (Spearman's rank correlation rs=0.22, P<1e−20), we found that siRNAs directed at high-turnover (t1/2<200 min) and medium-turnover (2001000 min) transcripts (P<8e−11 and 4e−9, respectively, two-tailed KS-test, Figure 4B). While 41.6% (498/1196) of the siRNAs directed at low-turnover transcripts reached 10% remaining expression or better, only 16.7% (31/186) of the siRNAs that targeted high-turnover mRNAs reached this high degree of silencing (Figure 4B). Reduced targetability (25.2%, 100/396) was also seen for transcripts with medium-turnover rate.
Our results based on siRNA data suggested that turnover rates could also influence microRNA targeting. By assembling genome-wide mRNA expression data from 20 published microRNA transfections in HeLa cells, we found that predicted target mRNAs with short and medium half-life were significantly less repressed after transfection than their long-lived counterparts (P<8e−5 and P<0.03, respectively, two-tailed KS-test). Specifically, 10.2% (293/2874) of long-lived targets versus 4.4% (41/942) of short-lived targets were strongly (z-score <−3) repressed. siRNAs are known to cause off-target effects that are mediated, in part, by microRNA-like seed complementarity (Jackson et al, 2006). We analyzed changes in transcript levels after transfection of seven different siRNAs, each with a unique seed region (Jackson et al, 2006). Putative ‘off-targets' were identified by mapping of non-conserved seed matches in 3′ UTRs. We found that low-turnover mRNAs (t1/2 >1000 min) were more affected by seed-mediated off-target silencing than high-turnover mRNAs (t1/2 <200 min), with twice as many long-lived seed-containing transcripts (3.8 versus 1.9%) being strongly (z-score <−3) repressed.
In summary, mRNA turnover rates have an important influence on the changes exerted by small RNAs on mRNA levels. It can be assumed that mRNA half-lives will influence how mRNAs are differentially perturbed whenever small RNA levels change in the cell, not only after transfection but also during differentiation, pathogenesis and normal cell physiology.
The microRNA pathway participates in basic cellular processes and its discovery has enabled the development of si/shRNAs as powerful investigational tools and potential therapeutics. Based on a simple kinetic model of the mRNA life cycle, we hypothesized that mRNAs with high turnover rates may be more resistant to RNAi-mediated silencing. The results of a simple reporter experiment strongly supported this hypothesis. We followed this with a genome-wide scale analysis of a rich corpus of experiments, including RT–qPCR validation data for thousands of siRNAs, siRNA/microRNA overexpression data and mRNA stability data. We find that short-lived transcripts are less affected by microRNA overexpression, suggesting that microRNA target prediction would be improved if mRNA turnover rates were considered. Similarly, short-lived transcripts are more difficult to silence using siRNAs, and our results may explain why certain transcripts are inherently recalcitrant to perturbation by small RNAs.
PMCID: PMC3010119  PMID: 21081925
microRNA; mRNA decay; RNAi; siRNA
16.  Dysregulation of microRNA expression drives aberrant DNA hypermethylation in basal-like breast cancer 
International Journal of Oncology  2013;44(2):563-572.
Basal-like breast cancers frequently express aberrant DNA hypermethylation associated with concurrent silencing of specific genes secondary to DNMT3b overexpression and DNMT hyperactivity. DNMT3b is known to be post-transcriptionally regulated by microRNAs. The objective of the current study was to determine the role of microRNA dysregulation in the molecular mechanism governing DNMT3b overexpression in primary breast cancers that express aberrant DNA hypermethylation. The expression of microRNAs (miRs) that regulate (miR-29a, miR-29b, miR-29c, miR-148a and miR-148b) or are predicted to regulate DNMT3b (miR-26a, miR-26b, miR-203 and miR-222) were evaluated among 70 primary breast cancers (36 luminal A-like, 13 luminal B-like, 5 HER2-enriched, 16 basal-like) and 18 normal mammoplasty tissues. Significantly reduced expression of miR-29c distinguished basal-like breast cancers from other breast cancer molecular subtypes. The expression of aberrant DNA hypermethylation was determined in a subset of 33 breast cancers (6 luminal A-like, 6 luminal B-like, 5 HER2-enriched and 16 basal-like) through examination of methylation-sensitive biomarker gene expression (CEACAM6, CDH1, CST6, ESR1, GNA11, MUC1, MYB, TFF3 and SCNN1A), 11/33 (33%) cancers exhibited aberrant DNA hypermethylation including 9/16 (56%) basal-like cancers, but only 2/17 (12%) non-basal-like cancers (luminal A-like, n=1; HER2-enriched, n=1). Breast cancers with aberrant DNA hypermethylation express diminished levels of miR-29a, miR-29b, miR-26a, miR-26b, miR-148a and miR-148b compared to cancers lacking aberrant DNA hypermethylation. A total of 7/9 (78%) basal-like breast cancers with aberrant DNA hypermethylation exhibit diminished levels of ≥6 regulatory miRs. The results show that i) reduced expression of miR-29c is characteristic of basal-like breast cancers, ii) miR and methylation-sensitive gene expression patterns identify two subsets of basal-like breast cancers, and iii) the subset of basal-like breast cancers with reduced expression of multiple regulatory miRs express aberrant DNA hypermethylation. Together, these findings strongly suggest that the molecular mechanism governing the DNMT3b-mediated aberrant DNA hypermethylation in primary breast cancer involves the loss of post-transcriptional regulation of DNMT3b by regulatory miRs.
PMCID: PMC3898722  PMID: 24297604
microRNA; aberrant DNA hypermethylation; primary breast cancers; epigenetic silencing; basal-like breast cancers
17.  MicroRNAs miR-26a, miR-26b, and miR-29b accelerate osteogenic differentiation of unrestricted somatic stem cells from human cord blood 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:111.
MicroRNAs are a population of short non-coding RNAs with widespread negative regulatory impact on mRNA translation. Unrestricted somatic stem cells (USSC) are a rare population in human cord blood that can be induced into cells representative of all three germinal layers. Here we analyzed the functional impact of miRNAs on the osteogenic differentiation in USSC.
Gene expression profiling identified 20 microRNAs that were consistently upregulated during osteogenic differentiation of two different USSC cell lines (SA5/73 and SA8/25). Bioinformatic target gene prediction indicated that among these microRNAs, miR-10a, -22, -26a, -26b, and -29b recognize transcripts that encode a set of proteins inhibiting osteogenesis. We subsequently verified osteo-inhibitory CDK6, CTNNBIP1, HDAC4, and TOB1 and osteo-promoting SMAD1 as targets of these microRNAs. In Western blot analyses demonstrated that endogenous levels of CDK6 and HDAC4 were downregulated during osteogenic differentiation of USSC and reduced following ectopic expression of miR-26a/b and miR-29b. In contrast, endogenous expression of SMAD1, targeted by miR-26a/b, was unaltered during osteogenic differentiation of USSC or following ectopic expression of miR-26a/b. Functional overexpression analyses using microRNA mimics revealed that miR-26a/b, as well as miR-29b strongly accelerated osteogenic differentiation of USSC as assessed by Alizarin-Red staining and calcium-release assays.
miR-26a/b and miR-29b are upregulated during osteogenic differentiation of USSC and share target genes inhibiting osteogenesis. Furthermore, these microRNAs accelerate osteogenic differentiation, likely mediated by osteo-inhibitory proteins such as CDK6 and HDAC4.
PMCID: PMC3637629  PMID: 23418963
Cord blood stem cells; Osteogenic differentiation; MicroRNA expression; MicroRNA function; MicroRNA target identification
18.  Regulation of Cardiac microRNAs by Cardiac microRNAs 
Circulation research  2013;113(1):62-71.
MicroRNAs modestly suppress their direct mRNA targets and these direct effects are amplified by modulation of gene transcription pathways. Consequently, indirect mRNA modulatory effects of microRNAs to increase or decrease mRNAs greatly outnumber direct target suppressions. Because microRNAs are products of transcription, the potential exists for microRNAs that regulate transcription to regulate other microRNAs.
Determine if cardiac-expressed microRNAs regulate expression of other cardiac microRNAs, and measure the impact of microRNA-mediated microRNA regulation on indirect regulation of non-target mRNAs.
Methods and Results
Transgenic expression of pre-microRNAs was used to generate mouse hearts expressing 6-16 fold normal levels of miR-143, miR-378, and miR-499. Genome-wide mRNA and microRNA signatures were established using deep sequencing; expression profiles provoked by each microRNA were defined. miR-143 suppressed its direct cardiac mRNA target hexokinase 2, but exhibited little indirect target regulation and did not regulate other cardiac microRNAs. Both miR-378 and miR-499 indirectly regulated hundreds of cardiac mRNAs and 15-30 cardiac microRNAs. MicroRNA overexpression did not alter normal processing of either transgenic or endogenous cardiac microRNAs, and microRNA-mediated regulation of other microRNAs encoded within parent genes occurred in tandem with parent mRNAs. MicroRNA regulation by miR-378 and miR-499 was stimulus-specific, and contributed to observed mRNA downregulation.
MicroRNAs that modulate cardiac transcription can indirectly regulate other microRNAs. Transcriptional modulation by microRNAs, and microRNA-mediated microRNA regulation, help explain how small direct effects of microRNAs are amplified to generate striking phenotypes.
PMCID: PMC3769967  PMID: 23625950
microRNA; deep sequencing; transcriptional regulation; translational regulation; myocardial; genetics; transgenic models
19.  Gene Regulation in Giardia lambia Involves a Putative MicroRNA Derived from a Small Nucleolar RNA 
Two core microRNA (miRNA) pathway proteins, Dicer and Argonaute, are found in Giardia lamblia, a deeply branching parasitic protozoan. There are, however, no apparent homologues of Drosha or Exportin5 in the genome. Here, we report a 26 nucleotide (nt) RNA derived from a 106 nt Box C/D snoRNA, GlsR2. This small RNA, designated miR5, localizes to the 3′ end of GlsR2 and has a 75 nt hairpin precursor. GlsR2 is processed by the Dicer from Giardia (GlDcr) and generated miR5. Immunoprecipitation of the Argonaute from Giardia (GlAgo) brought down miR5. When a Renilla Luciferase transcript with a 26 nt miR5 antisense sequence at the 3′-untranslated region (3′ UTR) was introduced into Giardia trophozoites, Luciferase expression was reduced ∼25% when synthetic miR5 was also introduced. The Luciferase mRNA level remained, however, unchanged, suggesting translation repression by miR5. This inhibition was fully reversed by introducing also a 2′-O-methylated antisense inhibitor of miR5, suggesting that miR5 acts by interacting specifically with the antisense sequence in the mRNA. A partial antisense knock down of GlDcr or GlAgo in Giardia indicated that the former is needed for miR5 biogenesis whereas the latter is required for miR5-mediated translational repression. Potential targets for miR5 with canonical seed sequences were predicted bioinformatically near the stop codon of Giardia mRNAs. Four out of the 21 most likely targets were tested in the Luciferase reporter assay. miR5 was found to inhibit Luciferase expression (∼20%) of transcripts carrying these potential target sites, indicating that snoRNA-derived miRNA can regulate the expression of multiple genes in Giardia.
Author Summary
Giardia lambia is a deeply branched parasitic protozoan and the pathogen causing the diarrhetic disorder, giardiasis. The mechanism of gene regulation in this organism is largely unknown. Here, we identified a 26 nucleotide (nt) small RNA from the 3′-end of a 106 nt small nucleolar RNA (GlsR2) in Giardia. GlsR2 is processed through the action of a Dicer protein in Giardia to generate the 26 nt RNA. The latter becomes associated with the Argonaute protein. The protein-RNA complex can repress the translation of messenger RNAs carrying the antisense sequence of the 26 nt RNA at the 3′-untranslated region. This small RNA, designated microRNA5 (miR5), has several potential targets identified in Giardia, among which four were further tested in Giardia and found their translation repressed by miR5. This is the second functioning microRNA we have indentified in Giardia. The microRNAs could be thus important regulators of gene expression in this ancient single cellular organism.
PMCID: PMC3196473  PMID: 22028939
20.  Network Modeling Identifies Molecular Functions Targeted by miR-204 to Suppress Head and Neck Tumor Metastasis 
PLoS Computational Biology  2010;6(4):e1000730.
Due to the large number of putative microRNA gene targets predicted by sequence-alignment databases and the relative low accuracy of such predictions which are conducted independently of biological context by design, systematic experimental identification and validation of every functional microRNA target is currently challenging. Consequently, biological studies have yet to identify, on a genome scale, key regulatory networks perturbed by altered microRNA functions in the context of cancer. In this report, we demonstrate for the first time how phenotypic knowledge of inheritable cancer traits and of risk factor loci can be utilized jointly with gene expression analysis to efficiently prioritize deregulated microRNAs for biological characterization. Using this approach we characterize miR-204 as a tumor suppressor microRNA and uncover previously unknown connections between microRNA regulation, network topology, and expression dynamics. Specifically, we validate 18 gene targets of miR-204 that show elevated mRNA expression and are enriched in biological processes associated with tumor progression in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC). We further demonstrate the enrichment of bottleneckness, a key molecular network topology, among miR-204 gene targets. Restoration of miR-204 function in HNSCC cell lines inhibits the expression of its functionally related gene targets, leads to the reduced adhesion, migration and invasion in vitro and attenuates experimental lung metastasis in vivo. As importantly, our investigation also provides experimental evidence linking the function of microRNAs that are located in the cancer-associated genomic regions (CAGRs) to the observed predisposition to human cancers. Specifically, we show miR-204 may serve as a tumor suppressor gene at the 9q21.1–22.3 CAGR locus, a well established risk factor locus in head and neck cancers for which tumor suppressor genes have not been identified. This new strategy that integrates expression profiling, genetics and novel computational biology approaches provides for improved efficiency in characterization and modeling of microRNA functions in cancer as compared to the state of art and is applicable to the investigation of microRNA functions in other biological processes and diseases.
Author Summary
MicroRNAs regulate the expression of genes in cells and are important in cancer development and progression. Designing new microRNA-based treatments requires the understanding of their mechanisms of action. Previous biological studies lack in depth since only a few genes are confirmed as microRNA targets. Additionally, key biological systems perturbed by altered microRNA functions in the context of cancer remain to be identified. Here, we demonstrate for the first time how genetic knowledge about the inheritance of cancer can be utilized jointly with data about the expression of genes in cancer samples to model deregulated microRNAs and their functions at multiple scales of biology. Our approach further uncovers previously unknown connections between microRNAs, their regulated genes, and their dynamics. Using head and neck cancer as a model, we predict the presence, functions, and gene targets of a new tumor suppressor microRNA in a cancer-associated chromosomal region where a candidate gene has not been identified. We then confirm their validity with extensive and thorough biological characterization and show attenuation of lung metastasis in mice. The discovery of molecular networks regulated by microRNAs could be exploited for the design of new treatments as an alternative to the single-gene target paradigm.
PMCID: PMC2848541  PMID: 20369013
21.  Array analysis for potential biomarker of gemcitabine identification in non-small cell lung cancer cell lines 
Gemcitabine is one of the most widely used drugs for the treatment of advanced Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), but modest objective response rate of patients to gemcitabine makes it necessary to identify novel biomarkers for patients who can benefit from gemcitabine-based therapy and to improve the effect of clinical therapy. In this work, 3 NSCLC cell lines displaying different sensitivities to gemcitabine were applied for mRNA and microRNA (miR) expression chips to figure out the biomarkers for gemcitabine sensitivity. Genes whose expression increased dramatically in sensitive cell lines were mainly enriched in cell adhesion (NRP2, CXCR3, CDK5R1, IL32 and CDH2) and secretory granule (SLC11A1, GP5, CD36 and IGF1), while genes with significantly upregulated expression in resistant cell line were mainly clustered in methylation modification (HIST1H2BF, RAB23 and TP53) and oxidoreductase (TP53I3, CYP27B1 and SOD3). The most intriguing is the activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling in gemcitabine resistant NSCLC cell lines. The miR-155, miR-10a, miR-30a, miR-24-2* and miR-30c-2* were upregulated in sensitive cell lines, while expression of miR-200c, miR-203, miR-885-5p, miR-195 and miR-25* was increased in resistant cell line. Genes with significantly altered expression and putatively mediated by the expression-changed miRs were mainly enriched in chromatin assembly (MAF, HLF, BCL2, and IGSF3), anti-apoptosis (BCL2, IGF1 and IKBKB), protein kinase (NRP2, PAK7 and CDK5R1) (all the above genes were upregulated in sensitive cells) and small GTPase mediated signal transduction (GNA13, RAP2A, ARHGAP5 and RAB23, down-regulated in sensitive cells). Our results might provide potential biomarkers for gemcitabine sensitivity prediction and putative targets to overcome gemcitabine resistance in NSCLC patients.
PMCID: PMC3759480  PMID: 24040438
Non-small cell lung cancer; gemcitabine; gene expression profiles; miR expression profiles
22.  Attenuation of dexamethasone-induced cell death in multiple myeloma is mediated by miR-125b expression 
Cell Cycle  2013;12(13):2144-2153.
Dexamethasone is a key front-line chemotherapeutic for B-cell malignant multiple myeloma (MM). Dexamethasone modulates MM cell survival signaling but fails to induce marked cytotoxicity when used as a monotherapy. We demonstrate here the mechanism behind this insufficient responsiveness of MM cells toward dexamethasone, revealing in MM a dramatic anti-apoptotic role for microRNA (miRNA)-125b in the insensitivity toward dexamethasone-induced apoptosis. MM cells responding to dexamethasone exhibited enhanced expression of oncogenic miR-125b. Dexamethasone also induced expression of miR-34a, which acts to suppress SIRT1 deacetylase, and thus allows maintained acetylation and inactivation of p53. p53 mRNA is also suppressed by miR-125b targeting. Reporter assays showed that both these dexamethasone-induced miRNAs act downstream of their target genes to prevent p53 tumor suppressor actions and, ultimately, resist cytotoxic responses in MM. Use of antisense miR-125b transcripts enhanced expression of pro-apoptotic p53, repressed expression of anti-apoptotic SIRT1 and, importantly, significantly enhanced dexamethasone-induced cell death responses in MM. Pharmacological manipulations showed that the key regulation enabling complete dexamethasone sensitivity in MM cells lies with miR-125b. In summary, dexamethasone-induced miR-125b induces cell death resistance mechanisms in MM cells via the p53/miR-34a/SIRT1 signaling network and provides these cells with an enhanced level of resistance to cytotoxic chemotherapeutics. Clearly, such anti-apoptotic mechanisms will need to be overcome to more effectively treat nascent, refractory and relapsed MM patients. These mechanisms provide insight into the role of miRNA regulation of apoptosis and their promotion of MM cell proliferative mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3737316  PMID: 23759586
NFκB; SIRT1; mir-125b; mir-34a; p53
23.  Loss of post-transcriptional regulation of DNMT3b by microRNAs: A possible molecular mechanism for the hypermethylation defect observed in a subset of breast cancer cell lines 
International Journal of Oncology  2012;41(2):721-732.
A hypermethylation defect associated with DNMT hyperactivity and DNMT3b overexpression characterizes a subset of breast cancers and breast cancer cell lines. We analyzed breast cancer cell lines for differential expression of regulatory miRs to determine if loss of miR-mediated post-transcriptional regulation of DNMT3b represents the molecular mechanism that governs the overexpression of DNMT3b that drives the hypermethylation defect in breast cancer. MicroRNAs (miRs) that regulate (miR-29a, miR-29b, miR-29c, miR-148a, miR-148b) or are predicted (miR-26a, miR-26b, miR-203, miR-222) to regulate DNMT3b were examined among 10 hypermethylator and 6 non-hypermethylator breast cancer cell lines. Hypermethylator cell lines express diminished levels of miR-29c, miR-148a, miR-148b, miR-26a, miR-26b, and miR-203 compared to non-hypermethylator cell lines. miR expression patterns correlate inversely with methylation-sensitive gene expression (r=−0.66, p=0.0056) and directly with the methylation status of these genes (r=0.72, p=0.002). To determine the mechanistic role of specific miRs in the dysregulation of DNMT3b among breast cancer cell lines, miR levels were modulated by transfection of pre-miR precursors for miR-148b, miR-26b, and miR-29c into hypermethylator cell lines (Hs578T, HCC1937, SUM185) and transfection of antagomirs directed against miR-148b, miR-26b, and miR-29c into non-hypermethylator cell lines (BT20, MDA-MB-415, MDA-MB-468). Antagomir-mediated knock-down of miR-148b, miR-29c, and miR-26b significantly increased DNMT3b mRNA in non-hypermethylator cell lines, and re-expression of miR-148b, miR-29c, and miR-26b following transfection of pre-miR precursors significantly reduced DNMT3b mRNA in hypermethylator cell lines. These findings strongly suggest that: i) post-transcriptional regulation of DNMT3b is combinatorial, ii) diminished expression of regulatory miRs contributes to DNMT3b overexpression, iii) re-expression of regulatory miRs reduces DNMT3b mRNA levels in hypermethylator breast cancer cell lines, and iv) down-regulation of regulatory miRs increases DNMT3b mRNA levels in non-hypermethylator breast cancer cell lines. In conlcusion, the molecular mechanism governing the DNMT3b-mediated hypermethylation defect in breast cancer cell lines involves the loss of post-transcriptional regulation of DNMT3b by regulatory miRs.
PMCID: PMC3982716  PMID: 22664488
hypermethylator phenotype; DNMT3b; microRNAs; breast cancer
24.  Competing Interactions between Micro-RNAs Determine Neural Progenitor Survival and Proliferation after Ethanol Exposure: Evidence from an Ex Vivo Model of the Fetal Cerebral Cortical Neuroepithelium 
The fetal brain is sensitive to a variety of teratogens, including ethanol. We showed previously that ethanol induced mitosis and stem cell maturation, but not death, in fetal cerebral cortex-derived progenitors. We tested the hypothesis that micro-RNAs (miRNAs) could mediate the teratogenic effects of ethanol in a fetal mouse cerebral cortex-derived neurosphere culture model. Ethanol, at a level attained by alcoholics, significantly suppressed the expression of four miRNAs, miR-21, -335, -9, and -153, whereas a lower ethanol concentration, attainable during social drinking, induced miR-335 expression. A GABAA receptor-dependent mechanism mediated miR-21, but not miR-335 suppression, suggesting that divergent mechanisms regulate ethanol-sensitive miRNAs. Antisense-mediated suppression of miR-21 expression resulted in apoptosis, suggesting that miR-21 is an antiapoptotic factor. miR-335 knockdown promoted cell proliferation and prevented death induced by concurrently suppressing miR-21, indicating that miR-335 is a proapoptotic, antimitogenic factor whose actions are antagonistic to miR-21. Computational analyses identified two genes, Jagged-1, a Notch-receptor ligand, and embryonic-lethal abnormal vision, Drosophila-like 2 (ELAVL2), a brain-specific regulator of RNA stability, as presumptive targets of three of four ethanol-sensitive micro-RNAs. Combined knockdown of miR-335, -21, and -153 significantly increased Jagged-1 mRNA. Furthermore, ethanol induced both Jagged-1 and ELAVL2 mRNA. The collective suppression of micro-RNAs is consistent with ethanol induction of cell cycle and neuroepithelial maturation in the absence of apoptosis. These data identify a role for micro-RNAs as epigenetic intermediaries, which permit teratogens to shape complex, divergent developmental processes, and additionally demonstrate that coordinately regulated miRNAs exhibit both functional synergy and antagonism toward each other.
PMCID: PMC2915840  PMID: 17687032
cerebral cortex; miR-21; miR-335; miR-9; miR-153; fetal alcohol syndrome; Jagged-1; ELAVL2; apoptosis
25.  MiR-200c Regulates Noxa Expression and Sensitivity to Proteasomal Inhibitors 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36490.
The pro-apoptotic p53 target Noxa is a BH3-only protein that antagonizes the function of selected anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members. While much is known regarding the transcriptional regulation of Noxa, its posttranscriptional regulation remains relatively unstudied. In this study, we therefore investigated whether Noxa is regulated by microRNAs. Using a screen combining luciferase reporters, bioinformatic target prediction analysis and microRNA expression profiling, we identified miR-200c as a negative regulator of Noxa expression. MiR-200c was shown to repress basal expression of Noxa, as well as Noxa expression induced by various stimuli, including proteasomal inhibition. Luciferase reporter experiments furthermore defined one miR-200c target site in the Noxa 3′UTR that is essential for this direct regulation. In spite of the miR-200c:Noxa interaction, miR-200c overexpression led to increased sensitivity to the clinically used proteasomal inhibitor bortezomib in several cell lines. This apparently contradictory finding was reconciled by the fact that in cells devoid of Noxa expression, miR-200c overexpression had an even more pronounced positive effect on apoptosis induced by proteasomal inhibition. Together, our data define miR-200c as a potentiator of bortezomib-induced cell death. At the same time, we show that miR-200c is a novel negative regulator of the pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family member Noxa.
PMCID: PMC3352905  PMID: 22615771

Results 1-25 (575160)