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1.  The Common Marmoset Genome Provides Insight into Primate Biology and Evolution 
Worley, Kim C. | Warren, Wesley C. | Rogers, Jeffrey | Locke, Devin | Muzny, Donna M. | Mardis, Elaine R. | Weinstock, George M. | Tardif, Suzette D. | Aagaard, Kjersti M. | Archidiacono, Nicoletta | Rayan, Nirmala Arul | Batzer, Mark A. | Beal, Kathryn | Brejova, Brona | Capozzi, Oronzo | Capuano, Saverio B. | Casola, Claudio | Chandrabose, Mimi M. | Cree, Andrew | Dao, Marvin Diep | de Jong, Pieter J. | del Rosario, Ricardo Cruz-Herrera | Delehaunty, Kim D. | Dinh, Huyen H. | Eichler, Evan | Fitzgerald, Stephen | Flicek, Paul | Fontenot, Catherine C. | Fowler, R. Gerald | Fronick, Catrina | Fulton, Lucinda A. | Fulton, Robert S. | Gabisi, Ramatu Ayiesha | Gerlach, Daniel | Graves, Tina A. | Gunaratne, Preethi H. | Hahn, Matthew W. | Haig, David | Han, Yi | Harris, R. Alan | Herrero, Javier M. | Hillier, LaDeana W. | Hubley, Robert | Hughes, Jennifer F. | Hume, Jennifer | Jhangiani, Shalini N. | Jorde, Lynn B. | Joshi, Vandita | Karakor, Emre | Konkel, Miriam K. | Kosiol, Carolin | Kovar, Christie L. | Kriventseva, Evgenia V. | Lee, Sandra L. | Lewis, Lora R. | Liu, Yih-shin | Lopez, John | Lopez-Otin, Carlos | Lorente-Galdos, Belen | Mansfield, Keith G. | Marques-Bonet, Tomas | Minx, Patrick | Misceo, Doriana | Moncrieff, J. Scott | Morgan, Margaret B. | Muthuswamy, Raveendran | Nazareth, Lynne V. | Newsham, Irene | Nguyen, Ngoc Bich | Okwuonu, Geoffrey O. | Prabhakar, Shyam | Perales, Lora | Pu, Ling-Ling | Puente, Xose S. | Quesada, Victor | Ranck, Megan C. | Raney, Brian J. | Deiros, David Rio | Rocchi, Mariano | Rodriguez, David | Ross, Corinna | Ruffier, Magali | Ruiz, San Juana | Sajjadian, S. | Santibanez, Jireh | Schrider, Daniel R. | Searle, Steve | Skaletsky, Helen | Soibam, Benjamin | Smit, Arian F. A. | Tennakoon, Jayantha B. | Tomaska, Lubomir | Ullmer, Brygg | Vejnar, Charles E. | Ventura, Mario | Vilella, Albert J. | Vinar, Tomas | Vogel, Jan-Hinnerk | Walker, Jerilyn A. | Wang, Qing | Warner, Crystal M. | Wildman, Derek E. | Witherspoon, David J. | Wright, Rita A. | Wu, Yuanqing | Xiao, Weimin | Xing, Jinchuan | Zdobnov, Evgeny M. | Zhu, Baoli | Gibbs, Richard A. | Wilson, Richard K.
Nature genetics  2014;46(8):850-857.
A first analysis of the genome sequence of the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus), assembled using traditional Sanger methods and Ensembl annotation, has permitted genomic comparison with apes and that old world monkeys and the identification of specific molecular features a rapid reproductive capacity partly due to may contribute to the unique biology of diminutive The common marmoset has prevalence of this dizygotic primate. twins. Remarkably, these twins share placental circulation and exchange hematopoietic stem cells in utero, resulting in adults that are hematopoietic chimeras.
We observed positive selection or non-synonymous substitutions for genes encoding growth hormone / insulin-like growth factor (growth pathways), respiratory complex I (metabolic pathways), immunobiology, and proteases (reproductive and immunity pathways). In addition, both protein-coding and microRNA genes related to reproduction exhibit rapid sequence evolution. This New World monkey genome sequence enables significantly increased power for comparative analyses among available primate genomes and facilitates biomedical research application.
PMCID: PMC4138798  PMID: 25038751
2.  G-CSF Receptor Positive Neuroblastoma Subpopulations are Enriched in Chemotherapy –Resistant or Relapsed Tumors and are Highly Tumorigenic 
Cancer research  2013;73(13):4134-4146.
Neuroblastoma is a neural crest derived embryonal malignancy which accounts for 13% of all pediatric cancer mortality, primarily due to tumor recurrence. Therapy-resistant cancer stem cells are implicated in tumor relapse, but definitive phenotypic evidence of the existence of these cells has been lacking. In this study, we define a highly tumorigenic subpopulation in neuroblastoma with stem cell characteristics, based on the expression of CD114, which encodes the receptor for granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF). CD114+ cells isolated from a primary tumor and the NGP cell line by flow cytometry were highly tumorigenic and capable of both self-renewal and differentiation to progeny cells. CD114+ cells closely resembled embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells with respect to their profiles of cell cycle, microRNA and gene expression. In addition, they reflect a primitive undifferentiated neuroectodermal/neural crest phenotype revealing a developmental hierarchy within neuroblastoma tumors. We detected this de-differentiated neural crest subpopulation in all established neuroblastoma cell lines, xenograft tumors, and primary tumor specimens analyzed. Ligand activation of CD114 by the addition of exogenous G-CSF to CD114+ cells confirmed intact STAT3 upregulation, characteristic of G-CSF receptor signaling. Together our data describe a novel distinct subpopulation within neuroblastoma with enhanced tumorigenicity and a stem-cell like phenotype, further elucidating the complex heterogeneity of solid tumors such as neuroblastoma. We propose this subpopulation may represent an additional target for novel therapeutic approaches to this aggressive pediatric malignancy.
PMCID: PMC4298227  PMID: 23687340
3.  Novel MicroRNAs Regulating Proliferation and Apoptosis in Uterine Papillary Serous Carcinomas 
Cancer letters  2013;335(2):314-322.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous, non-coding RNA transcripts that regulate gene expression. Here, we report 175 putative novel miRNAs identified in uterine cancers profiled by Next Generation Sequencing. Our data indicate that one of these putative miRNAs (BCM-173) is conserved across multiple species and is expressed at levels similar to known human miRNAs. Functionally, this miRNA promotes the growth and migration of uterine cancer cell lines by targeting vinculin and altering the distribution of focal adhesions. These results expand our insight into the repertoire of human miRNAs and identify novel pathways by which dysregulated miRNA expression promotes uterine cancer growth.
PMCID: PMC3669647  PMID: 23454583
MicroRNA; Uterine Cancer; Vinculin; Focal adhesions; Migration
4.  Large conserved domains of low DNA methylation maintained by Dnmt3a 
Nature genetics  2013;46(1):17-23.
Gains and losses in DNA methylation are prominent features of mammalian cell types. To gain insight into mechanisms that could promote shifts in DNA methylation and contribute to cell fate changes, including malignant transformation, we performed genome-wide mapping of 5-methylcytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine in purified murine hematopoietic stem cells. We discovered extended regions of low methylation (Canyons) that span conserved domains frequently containing transcription factors and are distinct from CpG islands and shores. The genes in about half of these methylation Canyons are coated with repressive histone marks while the remainder are covered by activating histone marks and are highly expressed in HSCs. Canyon borders are demarked by 5-hydroxymethylcytosine and become eroded in the absence of DNA methyltransferase 3a (Dnmt3a). Genes dysregulated in human leukemias are enriched for Canyon-associated genes. The novel epigenetic landscape we describe may provide a mechanism for the regulation of hematopoiesis and may contribute to leukemia development.
PMCID: PMC3920905  PMID: 24270360
5.  MLH1-Silenced and Non-Silenced Subgroups of Hypermutated Colorectal Carcinomas Have Distinct Mutational Landscapes 
The Journal of pathology  2013;229(1):99-110.
Approximately 15% of colorectal carcinomas (CRC) exhibit a hypermutated genotype accompanied by high levels of microsatellite instability (MSI-H) and defects in DNA mismatch repair. These tumors, unlike the majority of colorectal carcinomas, are often diploid, exhibit frequent epigenetic silencing of the MLH1 DNA mismatch repair gene, and have a better clinical prognosis. As an adjunct study to The Cancer Genome Atlas consortium that recently analyzed 224 colorectal cancers by whole exome sequencing, we compared the 35 CRC (15.6%) with a hypermutated genotype to those with a non-hypermutated genotype. We found that 22 (63%) of hypermutated CRC exhibited transcriptional silencing of the MLH1 gene, a high frequency of BRAF V600E gene mutations and infrequent APC and KRAS mutations, a mutational pattern significantly different from their non-hypermutated counterparts. However, the remaining 13 (37%) hypermutated CRC lacked MLH1 silencing, contained tumors with the highest mutation rates (“ultramutated” CRC), and exhibited higher incidences of APC and KRAS mutations, but infrequent BRAF mutations. These patterns were confirmed in an independent validation set of 250 exome-sequenced CRC. Analysis of mRNA and microRNA expression signatures revealed that hypermutated CRC with MLH1 silencing had greatly reduced levels of WNT signaling and increased BRAF signaling relative non-hypermutated CRC. Our findings suggest that hypermutated CRC include one subgroup with fundamentally different pathways to malignancy than the majority of CRC. Examination of MLH1 expression status and frequencies of APC, KRAS, and BRAF mutation in CRC may provide a useful diagnostic tool that could supplement the standard microsatellite instability assays and influence therapeutic decisions.
PMCID: PMC3926301  PMID: 22899370
colorectal cancer; microsatellite instability; MLH1; APC; KRAS; BRAF; WNT signaling; mutation rate
6.  Chromatin Changes in Dicer-Deficient Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells in Response to Retinoic Acid Induced Differentiation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74556.
Loss of Dicer, an enzyme critical for microRNA biogenesis, results in lethality due to a block in mouse embryonic stem cell (mES) differentiation. Using ChIP-Seq we found increased H3K9me2 at over 900 CpG islands in the Dicer-/-ES epigenome. Gene ontology analysis revealed that promoters of chromatin regulators to be among the most impacted by increased CpG island H3K9me2 in ES (Dicer-/-). We therefore, extended the study to include H3K4me3 and H3K27me3 marks for selected genes. We found that the ES (Dicer-/-) mutant epigenome was characterized by a shift in the overall balance between transcriptionally favorable (H3K4me3) and unfavorable (H3K27me3) marks at key genes regulating ES cell differentiation. Pluripotency genes Oct4, Sox2 and Nanog were not impacted in relation to patterns of H3K27me3 and H3K4me3 and showed no changes in the rates of transcript down-regulation in response to RA. The most striking changes were observed in regards to genes regulating differentiation and the transition from self-renewal to differentiation. An increase in H3K4me3 at the promoter of Lin28b was associated with the down-regulation of this gene at a lower rate in Dicer-/-ES as compared to wild type ES. An increase in H3K27me3 in the promoters of differentiation genes Hoxa1 and Cdx2 in Dicer-/-ES cells was coincident with an inability to up-regulate these genes at the same rate as ES upon retinoic acid (RA)-induced differentiation. We found that siRNAs Ezh2 and post-transcriptional silencing of Ezh2 by let-7g rescued this effect suggesting that Ezh2 up-regulation is in part responsible for increased H3K27me3 and decreased rates of up-regulation of differentiation genes in Dicer-/-ES.
PMCID: PMC3767645  PMID: 24040281
7.  Role for MicroRNAs in Regulating Glucocorticoid Response and Resistance in Multiple Myeloma 
Hormones & cancer  2011;2(3):182-189.
Glucocorticoids (GCs) are widely used in the treatment of hematological malignancies such as multiple myeloma. However, the development of resistance to GCs limits their clinical utility. Response to GCs is dependent on an active glucocorticoid receptor, GR-α, expressed at wild-type levels in the GC-sensitive cell line (MM.1S). GC-resistant derivative cell lines MM.1Re and MM.1RL display significant downregulation of GR-α transcripts. In this study, we report that a luciferase reporter containing the 3′-UTR of GR-α is significantly repressed in MM.1R cells when compared to MM.1S cells, suggesting that one or several microRNAs that are upregulated in MM.1R maybe in part responsible for the downregulation of the GR-α transcript. To examine posttranscriptional mechanisms of GR regulation, we examined miRNAs that have complimentary binding sites in the 3′-UTR of GR-α and found miR-130b, miR-181a, and miR-636 to be differentially expressed between GC-sensitive and GC-resistant MM.1 cell lines. Overexpression of miR-130b in MM.1S cells results in decreased expression of endogenous GR protein and decreased activity of the luciferase reporter. In addition, in MM.1S cells, the downstream GC response of glucocorticoid-induced leucine zipper induction is decreased by the overexpression of miR-130b, and further miR-130b inhibits GC-induced apoptosis and causes resistance to GCs.
PMCID: PMC3725966  PMID: 21761344
Multiple myeloma; MicroRNA; Glucocorticoids; Glucocorticoid receptor; Glucocorticoid resistance
8.  Expression and phosphorylation of the AS160_v2 splice variant supports GLUT4 activation and the Warburg effect in multiple myeloma 
Cancer & Metabolism  2013;1:14.
Multiple myeloma (MM) is a fatal plasma cell malignancy exhibiting enhanced glucose consumption associated with an aerobic glycolytic phenotype (i.e., the Warburg effect). We have previously demonstrated that myeloma cells exhibit constitutive plasma membrane (PM) localization of GLUT4, consistent with the dependence of MM cells on this transporter for maintenance of glucose consumption rates, proliferative capacity, and viability. The purpose of this study was to investigate the molecular basis of constitutive GLUT4 plasma membrane localization in MM cells.
We have elucidated a novel mechanism through which myeloma cells achieve constitutive GLUT4 activation involving elevated expression of the Rab-GTPase activating protein AS160_v2 splice variant to promote the Warburg effect. AS160_v2-positive MM cell lines display constitutive Thr642 phosphorylation, known to be required for inactivation of AS160 Rab-GAP activity. Importantly, we show that enforced expression of AS160_v2 is required for GLUT4 PM translocation and activation in these select MM lines. Furthermore, we demonstrate that ectopic expression of a full-length, phospho-deficient AS160 mutant is sufficient to impair constitutive GLUT4 cell surface residence, which is characteristic of MM cells.
This is the first study to tie AS160 de-regulation to increased glucose consumption rates and the Warburg effect in cancer. Future studies investigating connections between the insulin/IGF-1/AS160_v2/GLUT4 axis and FDG-PET positivity in myeloma patients are warranted and could provide rationale for therapeutically targeting this pathway in MM patients with advanced disease.
PMCID: PMC4178207  PMID: 24280290
9.  Transcriptome Profiling of microRNA by Next-Gen Deep Sequencing Reveals Known and Novel miRNA Species in the Lipid Fraction of Human Breast Milk 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e50564.
While breast milk has unique health advantages for infants, the mechanisms by which it regulates the physiology of newborns are incompletely understood. miRNAs have been described as functioning transcellularly, and have been previously isolated in cell-free and exosomal form from bodily liquids (serum, saliva, urine) and tissues, including mammary tissue. We hypothesized that breast milk in general, and milk fat globules in particular, contain significant numbers of known and limited novel miRNA species detectable with massively parallel sequencing. Extracted RNA from lactating mothers before and following short-term treatment with recombinant human growth hormone (rhGH) was smRNA-enriched. smRNA-Seq was performed to generate 124,110,646 36-nt reads. Of these, 31,102,927 (25%) exactly matched known human miRNAs; with relaxing of stringency, 74,716,151 (60%) matched known miRNAs including 308 of the 1018 (29%) mature miRNAs (miRBase 16.0). These miRNAs are predicted to target 9074 genes; the 10 most abundant of these predicted to target 2691 genes with enrichment for transcriptional regulation of metabolic and immune responses. We identified 21 putative novel miRNAs, of which 12 were confirmed in a large validation set that included cohorts of lactating women consuming enriched diets. Of particular interest, we observed that expression of several novel miRNAs were altered by the perturbed maternal diet, notably following a high-fat intake (p<0.05). Our findings suggest that known and novel miRNAs are enriched in breast milk fat globules, and expression of several novel miRNA species is regulated by maternal diet. Based on robust pathway mapping, our data supports the notion that these maternally secreted miRNAs (stable in the milk fat globules) play a regulatory role in the infant and account in part for the health benefits of breast milk. We further speculate that regulation of these miRNA by a high fat maternal diet enables modulation of fetal metabolism to accommodate significant dietary challenges.
PMCID: PMC3572105  PMID: 23418415
10.  The Repertoire and Features of Human Platelet microRNAs 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e50746.
Playing a central role in the maintenance of hemostasis as well as in thrombotic disorders, platelets contain a relatively diverse messenger RNA (mRNA) transcriptome as well as functional mRNA-regulatory microRNAs, suggesting that platelet mRNAs may be regulated by microRNAs. Here, we elucidated the complete repertoire and features of human platelet microRNAs by high-throughput sequencing. More than 492 different mature microRNAs were detected in human platelets, whereas the list of known human microRNAs was expanded further by the discovery of 40 novel microRNA sequences. As in nucleated cells, platelet microRNAs bear signs of post-transcriptional modifications, mainly terminal adenylation and uridylation. In vitro enzymatic assays demonstrated the ability of human platelets to uridylate microRNAs, which correlated with the presence of the uridyltransferase enzyme TUT4. We also detected numerous microRNA isoforms (isomiRs) resulting from imprecise Drosha and/or Dicer processing, in some cases more frequently than the reference microRNA sequence, including 5′ shifted isomiRs with redirected mRNA targeting abilities. This study unveils the existence of a relatively diverse and complex microRNA repertoire in human platelets, and represents a mandatory step towards elucidating the intraplatelet and extraplatelet role, function and importance of platelet microRNAs.
PMCID: PMC3514217  PMID: 23226537
11.  Integrated analysis of microRNA expression and mRNA transcriptome in lungs of avian influenza virus infected broilers 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:278.
Avian influenza virus (AIV) outbreaks are worldwide threats to both poultry and humans. Our previous study suggested microRNAs (miRNAs) play significant roles in the regulation of host response to AIV infection in layer chickens. The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis if genetic background play essential role in the miRNA regulation of AIV infection in chickens and if miRNAs that were differentially expressed in layer with AIV infection would be modulated the same way in broiler chickens. Furthermore, by integrating with parallel mRNA expression profiling, potential molecular mechanisms of host response to AIV infection can be further exploited.
Total RNA isolated from the lungs of non-infected and low pathogenic H5N3 infected broilers at four days post-infection were used for both miRNA deep sequencing and mRNA microarray analyses. A total of 2.6 M and 3.3 M filtered high quality reads were obtained from infected and non-infected chickens by Solexa GA-I Sequencer, respectively. A total of 271 miRNAs in miRBase 16.0 were identified and one potential novel miRNA was discovered. There were 121 miRNAs differentially expressed at the 5% false discovery rate by Fisher’s exact test. More miRNAs were highly expressed in infected lungs (108) than in non-infected lungs (13), which was opposite to the findings in layer chickens. This result suggested that a different regulatory mechanism of host response to AIV infection mediated by miRNAs might exist in broiler chickens. Analysis using the chicken 44 K Agilent microarray indicated that 508 mRNAs (347 down-regulated) were differentially expressed following AIV infection.
A comprehensive analysis combining both miRNA and targeted mRNA gene expression suggests that gga-miR-34a, 122–1, 122–2, 146a, 155, 206, 1719, 1594, 1599 and 451, and MX1, IL-8, IRF-7, TNFRS19 are strong candidate miRNAs or genes involved in regulating the host response to AIV infection in the lungs of broiler chickens. Further miRNA or gene specific knock-down assay is warranted to elucidate underlying mechanism of AIV infection regulation in the chicken.
PMCID: PMC3496578  PMID: 22726614
Chicken; miRNA; AIV; Deep sequencing; Microarray
12.  Modulation of microRNA Activity by Semi-microRNAs 
The ribonuclease Dicer plays a central role in the microRNA pathway by catalyzing the formation of 19–24-nucleotide (nt) long microRNAs. Subsequently incorporated into Argonaute 2 (Ago2) effector complexes, microRNAs are known to regulate messenger RNA (mRNA) translation. Whether shorter RNA species derived from microRNAs exist and play a role in mRNA regulation remains unknown. Here, we report the serendipitous discovery of a 12-nt long RNA species corresponding to the 5′ region of the microRNA let-7, and tentatively termed semi-microRNA, or smiRNA. Using a smiRNA derived from the precursor of miR-223 as a model, we show that 12-nt long smiRNA species are devoid of any direct mRNA regulatory activity, as assessed in a reporter gene activity assay in transfected cultured human cells. However, smiR-223 was found to modulate the ability of the microRNA from which it derives to mediate translational repression or cleavage of reporter mRNAs. Our findings suggest that the 12-nt RNA species, generated along the microRNA pathway, may participate to the control of gene expression by regulating the activity of the related full-length mature microRNA in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3366366  PMID: 22675332
microRNA; non-coding RNA; Dicer; Argonaute 2; gene regulation; RNA silencing
13.  Integrated Analyses of microRNAs Demonstrate Their Widespread Influence on Gene Expression in High-Grade Serous Ovarian Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e34546.
The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Network recently comprehensively catalogued the molecular aberrations in 487 high-grade serous ovarian cancers, with much remaining to be elucidated regarding the microRNAs (miRNAs). Here, using TCGA ovarian data, we surveyed the miRNAs, in the context of their predicted gene targets.
Methods and Results
Integration of miRNA and gene patterns yielded evidence that proximal pairs of miRNAs are processed from polycistronic primary transcripts, and that intronic miRNAs and their host gene mRNAs derive from common transcripts. Patterns of miRNA expression revealed multiple tumor subtypes and a set of 34 miRNAs predictive of overall patient survival. In a global analysis, miRNA:mRNA pairs anti-correlated in expression across tumors showed a higher frequency of in silico predicted target sites in the mRNA 3′-untranslated region (with less frequency observed for coding sequence and 5′-untranslated regions). The miR-29 family and predicted target genes were among the most strongly anti-correlated miRNA:mRNA pairs; over-expression of miR-29a in vitro repressed several anti-correlated genes (including DNMT3A and DNMT3B) and substantially decreased ovarian cancer cell viability.
This study establishes miRNAs as having a widespread impact on gene expression programs in ovarian cancer, further strengthening our understanding of miRNA biology as it applies to human cancer. As with gene transcripts, miRNAs exhibit high diversity reflecting the genomic heterogeneity within a clinically homogeneous disease population. Putative miRNA:mRNA interactions, as identified using integrative analysis, can be validated. TCGA data are a valuable resource for the identification of novel tumor suppressive miRNAs in ovarian as well as other cancers.
PMCID: PMC3315571  PMID: 22479643
14.  Molecular and Functional Characteristics of Ovarian Surface Epithelial Cells Transformed by KrasG12D and loss of Pten in a Mouse Model in vivo 
Oncogene  2011;30(32):3522-3536.
Ovarian cancer is a complex and deadly disease that remains difficult to detect at an early curable stage. Furthermore, although some oncogenic (Kras, Pten/PI3K and Trp53) pathways that are frequently mutated, deleted or amplified in ovarian cancer are known, how these pathways initiate and drive specific morphological phenotypes and tumor outcomes remain unclear. We recently generated Pten fl/fl; KrasG12D;Amhr2-Cre mice to disrupt the Pten gene and express a stable mutant form of KrasG12D in ovarian surface epithelial (OSE) cells. Based on histopathologic criteria, the mutant mice developed low-grade ovarian serous papillary adenocarcinomas at an early age and with 100% penetrance. This highly reproducible phenotype provides the first mouse model in which to study this ovarian cancer subtype. OSE cells isolated from ovaries of mutant mice at 5 and 10 weeks of age exhibit temporal changes in the expression of specific Mullerian epithelial marker genes, grow in soft agar and develop ectopic invasive tumors in recipient mice, indicating that the cells are transformed. Gene profiling identified specific mRNAs and microRNAs differentially expressed in purified OSE cells derived from tumors of the mutant mice compared to WT OSE cells. Mapping of transcripts or genes between the mouse OSE mutant datasets, the Kras signature from human cancer cell lines and the human ovarian tumor array datasets, documented significant overlap, indicating that KRAS is a key driver of OSE transformation in this context. Two key hallmarks of the mutant OSE cells in these mice are the elevated expression of the tumor suppressorsTrp53 (p53) and its microRNA target, miR-34a-c. We propose that elevated TRP53 and miR-34a-c may exert negatively regulatory effects that reduce the proliferative potential of OSE cells leading to the low-grade serous adenocarcinoma phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3139785  PMID: 21423204
Kras; Pten; Trp53; ovarian cancer; serous
15.  MicroRNA-1258 Suppresses Breast Cancer Brain Metastasis by Targeting Heparanase 
Cancer research  2011;71(3):645-654.
Heparanase (HPSE) is a potent pro-tumorigenic, pro-angiogenic and pro-metastatic enzyme that is overexpressed in brain metastatic breast cancer (BMBC). However, little is known about the regulation of this potential therapeutic target in BMBC, which remains very poorly managed in the clinic. We hypothesized HPSE gene expression might be regulated by microRNA that might be exploited therapeutically. Using miRanda and RNAhybrid, we identified miR-1258 as a candidate microRNA that may directly target HPSE and suppress BMBC. In support of our hypothesis, we found that miR-1258 levels inversely correlated with heparanase expression, enzymatic activity, and cancer cell metastatic propensities, being lowest in highly aggressive BMBC cell variants compared to either non-tumorigenic or non-metastatic human mammary epithelial cells. These findings were validated by analyses of miR-1258 and heparanase content in paired clinical specimens of normal mammary gland versus invasive ductal carcinoma, and primary breast cancer versus BMBC. In regulatory experiments, miR-1258 inhibited the expression and activity of heparanase in BMBC cells, whereas modulating heparanase blocked the phenotypic effects of miR-1258. In functional experiments, stable expression of miR-1258 in BMBC cells inhibited heparanase, in vitro cell invasion, and experimental brain metastasis. Together, our findings illustrate how microRNA mechanisms are linked to brain metastatic breast cancer through heparanase control, and they offer a strong rationale to develop heparanase-based therapeutics for treatment of cancer patients with brain metastases, BMBC in particular.
PMCID: PMC3078691  PMID: 21266359
MicroRNA; Heparanase; LNA-ISH; Brain metastasis; Breast cancer
16.  miRNA Regulatory Circuits in ES Cells Differentiation: A Chemical Kinetics Modeling Approach 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e23263.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play an important role in gene regulation for Embryonic Stem cells (ES cells), where they either down-regulate target mRNA genes by degradation or repress protein expression of these mRNA genes by inhibiting translation. Well known tables TargetScan and miRanda may predict quite long lists of potential miRNAs inhibitors for each mRNA gene, and one of our goals was to strongly narrow down the list of mRNA targets potentially repressed by a known large list of 400 miRNAs. Our paper focuses on algorithmic analysis of ES cells microarray data to reliably detect repressive interactions between miRNAs and mRNAs. We model, by chemical kinetics equations, the interaction architectures implementing the two basic silencing processes of miRNAs, namely “direct degradation” or “translation inhibition” of targeted mRNAs. For each pair (M,G) of potentially interacting miRMA gene M and mRNA gene G, we parameterize our associated kinetic equations by optimizing their fit with microarray data. When this fit is high enough, we validate the pair (M,G) as a highly probable repressive interaction. This approach leads to the computation of a highly selective and drastically reduced list of repressive pairs (M,G) involved in ES cells differentiation.
PMCID: PMC3198445  PMID: 22039400
17.  The genome of a songbird 
Warren, Wesley C. | Clayton, David F. | Ellegren, Hans | Arnold, Arthur P. | Hillier, LaDeana W. | Künstner, Axel | Searle, Steve | White, Simon | Vilella, Albert J. | Fairley, Susan | Heger, Andreas | Kong, Lesheng | Ponting, Chris P. | Jarvis, Erich D. | Mello, Claudio V. | Minx, Pat | Lovell, Peter | Velho, Tarciso A. F. | Ferris, Margaret | Balakrishnan, Christopher N. | Sinha, Saurabh | Blatti, Charles | London, Sarah E. | Li, Yun | Lin, Ya-Chi | George, Julia | Sweedler, Jonathan | Southey, Bruce | Gunaratne, Preethi | Watson, Michael | Nam, Kiwoong | Backström, Niclas | Smeds, Linnea | Nabholz, Benoit | Itoh, Yuichiro | Whitney, Osceola | Pfenning, Andreas R. | Howard, Jason | Völker, Martin | Skinner, Bejamin M. | Griffin, Darren K. | Ye, Liang | McLaren, William M. | Flicek, Paul | Quesada, Victor | Velasco, Gloria | Lopez-Otin, Carlos | Puente, Xose S. | Olender, Tsviya | Lancet, Doron | Smit, Arian F. A. | Hubley, Robert | Konkel, Miriam K. | Walker, Jerilyn A. | Batzer, Mark A. | Gu, Wanjun | Pollock, David D. | Chen, Lin | Cheng, Ze | Eichler, Evan E. | Stapley, Jessica | Slate, Jon | Ekblom, Robert | Birkhead, Tim | Burke, Terry | Burt, David | Scharff, Constance | Adam, Iris | Richard, Hugues | Sultan, Marc | Soldatov, Alexey | Lehrach, Hans | Edwards, Scott V. | Yang, Shiaw-Pyng | Li, XiaoChing | Graves, Tina | Fulton, Lucinda | Nelson, Joanne | Chinwalla, Asif | Hou, Shunfeng | Mardis, Elaine R. | Wilson, Richard K.
Nature  2010;464(7289):757-762.
The zebra finch is an important model organism in several fields1,2 with unique relevance to human neuroscience3,4. Like other songbirds, the zebra finch communicates through learned vocalizations, an ability otherwise documented only in humans and a few other animals and lacking in the chicken5—the only bird with a sequenced genome until now6. Here we present a structural, functional and comparative analysis of the genome sequence of the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata), which is a songbird belonging to the large avian order Passeriformes7. We find that the overall structures of the genomes are similar in zebra finch and chicken, but they differ in many intrachromosomal rearrangements, lineage-specific gene family expansions, the number of long-terminal-repeat-based retrotransposons, and mechanisms of sex chromosome dosage compensation. We show that song behaviour engages gene regulatory networks in the zebra finch brain, altering the expression of long non-coding RNAs, microRNAs, transcription factors and their targets. We also show evidence for rapid molecular evolution in the songbird lineage of genes that are regulated during song experience. These results indicate an active involvement of the genome in neural processes underlying vocal communication and identify potential genetic substrates for the evolution and regulation of this behaviour.
PMCID: PMC3187626  PMID: 20360741
18.  Song exposure regulates known and novel microRNAs in the zebra finch auditory forebrain 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:277.
In an important model for neuroscience, songbirds learn to discriminate songs they hear during tape-recorded playbacks, as demonstrated by song-specific habituation of both behavioral and neurogenomic responses in the auditory forebrain. We hypothesized that microRNAs (miRNAs or miRs) may participate in the changing pattern of gene expression induced by song exposure. To test this, we used massively parallel Illumina sequencing to analyse small RNAs from auditory forebrain of adult zebra finches exposed to tape-recorded birdsong or silence.
In the auditory forebrain, we identified 121 known miRNAs conserved in other vertebrates. We also identified 34 novel miRNAs that do not align to human or chicken genomes. Five conserved miRNAs showed significant and consistent changes in copy number after song exposure across three biological replications of the song-silence comparison, with two increasing (tgu-miR-25, tgu-miR-192) and three decreasing (tgu-miR-92, tgu-miR-124, tgu-miR-129-5p). We also detected a locus on the Z sex chromosome that produces three different novel miRNAs, with supporting evidence from Northern blot and TaqMan qPCR assays for differential expression in males and females and in response to song playbacks. One of these, tgu-miR-2954-3p, is predicted (by TargetScan) to regulate eight song-responsive mRNAs that all have functions in cellular proliferation and neuronal differentiation.
The experience of hearing another bird singing alters the profile of miRNAs in the auditory forebrain of zebra finches. The response involves both known conserved miRNAs and novel miRNAs described so far only in the zebra finch, including a novel sex-linked, song-responsive miRNA. These results indicate that miRNAs are likely to contribute to the unique behavioural biology of learned song communication in songbirds.
PMCID: PMC3118218  PMID: 21627805
19.  Molecular profiling uncovers a p53-associated role for microRNA-31 in inhibiting the proliferation of serous ovarian carcinomas and other cancers 
Cancer research  2010;70(5):1906-1915.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate complex patterns of gene expression, and the relevance of altered miRNA expression to ovarian cancer remains to be elucidated. By comprehensively profiling expression of miRNAs and mRNAs in serous ovarian tumors and cell lines and normal ovarian surface epithelium, we identified hundreds of potential miRNA-mRNA targeting associations underlying cancer. Functional overexpression of miR-31, the most underexpressed miRNA in serous ovarian cancer, repressed predicted miR-31 gene targets including cell cycle regulator E2F2. MIR31 and CDKN2A, which encodes p14ARF and p16INK4A, are located at 9p21.3, a genomic region commonly deleted in ovarian and other cancers. p14ARF promotes p53 activity, and E2F2 overexpression in p53 wild-type cells normally leads via p14ARF to an induction of p53-dependent apoptosis. In a number of serous cancer cell lines with a dysfunctional p53 pathway (i.e., OVCAR8, OVCA433, and SKOV3), miR-31 overexpression inhibited proliferation and induced apoptosis; however, in other lines (i.e., HEY and OVSAYO) with functional p53, miR-31 had no effect. Additionally, the osteosarcoma cell line U2OS and the prostate cancer cell line PC3 (p14ARF-deficient and p53-deficient, respectively) were also sensitive to miR-31. Furthermore, miR-31 overexpression induced a global gene expression pattern in OVCAR8 associated with better prognosis in tumors from patients with advanced stage serous ovarian cancer, potentially impacting many genes underlying disease progression. Our findings reveal that loss of miR-31 is associated with defects in the p53 pathway and functions in serous ovarian cancer and other cancers, suggesting that patients with cancers deficient in p53 activity might benefit from therapeutic delivery of miR-31.
PMCID: PMC2831102  PMID: 20179198
microRNA; serous ovarian carcinoma; cancer therapy; miR31; TP53
20.  Analysis of MicroRNA Expression in the Prepubertal Testis 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e15317.
Only thirteen microRNAs are conserved between D. melanogaster and the mouse; however, conditional loss of miRNA function through mutation of Dicer causes defects in proliferation of premeiotic germ cells in both species. This highlights the potentially important, but uncharacterized, role of miRNAs during early spermatogenesis. The goal of this study was to characterize on postnatal day 7, 10, and 14 the content and editing of murine testicular miRNAs, which predominantly arise from spermatogonia and spermatocytes, in contrast to prior descriptions of miRNAs in the adult mouse testis which largely reflects the content of spermatids. Previous studies have shown miRNAs to be abundant in the mouse testis by postnatal day 14; however, through Next Generation Sequencing of testes from a B6;129 background we found abundant earlier expression of miRNAs and describe shifts in the miRNA signature during this period. We detected robust expression of miRNAs encoded on the X chromosome in postnatal day 14 testes, consistent with prior studies showing their resistance to meiotic sex chromosome inactivation. Unexpectedly, we also found a similar positional enrichment for most miRNAs on chromosome 2 at postnatal day 14 and for those on chromosome 12 at postnatal day 7. We quantified in vivo developmental changes in three types of miRNA variation including 5′ heterogeneity, editing, and 3′ nucleotide addition. We identified eleven putative novel pubertal testis miRNAs whose developmental expression suggests a possible role in early male germ cell development. These studies provide a foundation for interpretation of miRNA changes associated with testicular pathology and identification of novel components of the miRNA editing machinery in the testis.
PMCID: PMC3012074  PMID: 21206922
21.  Gene expression profiling reveals signatures characterizing histologic subtypes of hepatoblastoma and global deregulation in cell growth and survival pathways 
Human pathology  2009;40(6):843-853.
Hepatoblastoma is the most common malignant tumor of the liver of children worldwide. Histologically, hepatoblastomas show marked variation in the type and proportion of epithelial (fetal, embryonal, or small cell) and mesenchymal components with differing prognosis and response to therapy. The pure fetal–type hepatoblastoma, presenting as stage 1 and resectable, has the best prognosis, whereas the small cell histology has been associated with unfavorable outcome. Using gene expression profiling, we demonstrate that in addition to Wnt pathway deregulation, cell growth and survival pathways are also globally deregulated in hepatoblastomas. Furthermore, the different histologic subtypes are characterized by specific gene expression and pathway signatures that give insight into the degree of molecular heterogeneity that is present among these tumors. Although Wnt signaling pathway upregulation is common to all histologic types of hepatoblastoma, this pathway is even more significantly deregulated in aggressive hepatoblastomas. In addition, deregulation of MAPK signaling pathway and antiapoptotic signaling is preferentially upregulated in aggressive epithelial hepatoblastomas with a small cell component. The gene expression signatures reported here provide possible prognostic and diagnostic markers as well as therapeutic targets for this disease.
PMCID: PMC2957366  PMID: 19200578
Gene expression profiling; Fetal; Small cell and embryonal hepatoblastoma; Liver tumors; Pediatric
22.  Using Effective Subnetworks to Predict Selected Properties of Gene Networks 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13080.
Difficulties associated with implementing gene therapy are caused by the complexity of the underlying regulatory networks. The forms of interactions between the hundreds of genes, proteins, and metabolites in these networks are not known very accurately. An alternative approach is to limit consideration to genes on the network. Steady state measurements of these influence networks can be obtained from DNA microarray experiments. However, since they contain a large number of nodes, the computation of influence networks requires a prohibitively large set of microarray experiments. Furthermore, error estimates of the network make verifiable predictions impossible.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here, we propose an alternative approach. Rather than attempting to derive an accurate model of the network, we ask what questions can be addressed using lower dimensional, highly simplified models. More importantly, is it possible to use such robust features in applications? We first identify a small group of genes that can be used to affect changes in other nodes of the network. The reduced effective empirical subnetwork (EES) can be computed using steady state measurements on a small number of genetically perturbed systems. We show that the EES can be used to make predictions on expression profiles of other mutants, and to compute how to implement pre-specified changes in the steady state of the underlying biological process. These assertions are verified in a synthetic influence network. We also use previously published experimental data to compute the EES associated with an oxygen deprivation network of E.coli, and use it to predict gene expression levels on a double mutant. The predictions are significantly different from the experimental results for less than of genes.
The constraints imposed by gene expression levels of mutants can be used to address a selected set of questions about a gene network.
PMCID: PMC2951892  PMID: 20949025
23.  Expression profiling of microRNAs by deep sequencing 
Briefings in Bioinformatics  2009;10(5):490-497.
MicroRNAs are short non-coding RNAs that regulate the stability and translation of mRNAs. Profiling experiments, using microarray or deep sequencing technology, have identified microRNAs that are preferentially expressed in certain tissues, specific stages of development, or disease states such as cancer. Deep sequencing utilizes massively parallel sequencing, generating millions of small RNA sequence reads from a given sample. Profiling of microRNAs by deep sequencing measures absolute abundance and allows for the discovery of novel microRNAs that have eluded previous cloning and standard sequencing efforts. Public databases provide in silico predictions of microRNA gene targets by various algorithms. To better determine which of these predictions represent true positives, microRNA expression data can be integrated with gene expression data to identify putative microRNA:mRNA functional pairs. Here we discuss tools and methodologies for the analysis of microRNA expression data from deep sequencing.
PMCID: PMC2733187  PMID: 19332473
deep sequencing; expression profiling; microRNA
25.  Discovery of Novel MicroRNAs in Female Reproductive Tract Using Next Generation Sequencing 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9637.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that mediate post-transcriptional gene silencing. Over 700 human miRNAs have currently been identified, many of which are mutated or de-regulated in diseases. Here we report the identification of novel miRNAs through deep sequencing the small RNAome (<30 nt) of over 100 tissues or cell lines derived from human female reproductive organs in both normal and disease states. These specimens include ovarian epithelium and ovarian cancer, endometrium and endometriomas, and uterine myometrium and uterine smooth muscle tumors. Sequence reads not aligning with known miRNAs were each mapped to the genome to extract flanking sequences. These extended sequence regions were folded in silico to identify RNA hairpins. Sequences demonstrating the ability to form a stem loop structure with low minimum free energy (<−25 kcal) and predicted Drosha and Dicer cut sites yielding a mature miRNA sequence matching the actual sequence were considered putative novel miRNAs. Additional confidence was achieved when putative novel hairpins assembled a collection of sequences highly similar to the putative mature miRNA but with heterogeneous 3′-ends. A confirmed novel miRNA fulfilled these criteria and had its “star” sequence in our collection. We found 7 distinct confirmed novel miRNAs, and 51 additional novel miRNAs that represented highly confident predictions but without detectable star sequences. Our novel miRNAs were detectable in multiple samples, but expressed at low levels and not specific to any one tissue or cell type. To date, this study represents the largest set of samples analyzed together to identify novel miRNAs.
PMCID: PMC2835764  PMID: 20224791

Results 1-25 (31)