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1.  MicroRNA Profiles Discriminate among Colon Cancer Metastasis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e96670.
MicroRNAs are being exploited for diagnosis, prognosis and monitoring of cancer and other diseases. Their high tissue specificity and critical role in oncogenesis provide new biomarkers for the diagnosis and classification of cancer as well as predicting patients' outcomes. MicroRNAs signatures have been identified for many human tumors, including colorectal cancer (CRC). In most cases, metastatic disease is difficult to predict and to prevent with adequate therapies. The aim of our study was to identify a microRNA signature for metastatic CRC that could predict and differentiate metastatic target organ localization. Normal and cancer tissues of three different groups of CRC patients were analyzed. RNA microarray and TaqMan Array analysis were performed on 66 Italian patients with or without lymph nodes and/or liver recurrences. Data obtained with the two assays were analyzed separately and then intersected to identify a primary CRC metastatic signature. Five differentially expressed microRNAs (hsa-miR-21, -103, -93, -31 and -566) were validated by qRT-PCR on a second group of 16 American metastatic patients. In situ hybridization was performed on the 16 American patients as well as on three distinct commercial tissues microarray (TMA) containing normal adjacent colon, the primary adenocarcinoma, normal and metastatic lymph nodes and liver. Hsa-miRNA-21, -93, and -103 upregulation together with hsa-miR-566 downregulation defined the CRC metastatic signature, while in situ hybridization data identified a lymphonodal invasion profile. We provided the first microRNAs signature that could discriminate between colorectal recurrences to lymph nodes and liver and between colorectal liver metastasis and primary hepatic tumor.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096670
PMCID: PMC4055753  PMID: 24921248
2.  MicroRNA-135b Promotes Cancer Progression by Acting as a Downstream Effector of Oncogenic Pathways in Colon Cancer 
Cancer Cell  2014;25(4):469-483.
Summary
MicroRNA deregulation is frequent in human colorectal cancers (CRCs), but little is known as to whether it represents a bystander event or actually drives tumor progression in vivo. We show that miR-135b overexpression is triggered in mice and humans by APC loss, PTEN/PI3K pathway deregulation, and SRC overexpression and promotes tumor transformation and progression. We show that miR-135b upregulation is common in sporadic and inflammatory bowel disease-associated human CRCs and correlates with tumor stage and poor clinical outcome. Inhibition of miR-135b in CRC mouse models reduces tumor growth by controlling genes involved in proliferation, invasion, and apoptosis. We identify miR-135b as a key downsteam effector of oncogenic pathways and a potential target for CRC treatment.
Highlights
•miR-135b is overexpressed in mouse and human colorectal cancer•miR-135b overexpression is associated with poor clinical outcome•miR-135b activation is triggered by oncogenic pathways in colorectal cancer•miR-135b represents a therapeutic target for colorectal cancer
Valeri et al. identify miR-135b as a key oncogenic pathway effector involved in transformation and colorectal cancer (CRC) progression. Upregulation of miR-135b in human CRCs correlates with poor clinical outcome. miR-135b targets several tumor suppressor genes and is a potential target for CRC therapy.
doi:10.1016/j.ccr.2014.03.006
PMCID: PMC3995091  PMID: 24735923
3.  Resveratrol modulates the levels of microRNAs targeting genes encoding tumor-suppressors and effectors of TGFβ signaling pathway in SW480 cells 
Biochemical pharmacology  2010;80(12):2057-2065.
Resveratrol (trans-3,4′,5-trihydroxystilbene) is a natural antioxidant with cardiovascular and cancer preventive properties, that is currently at the stage of pre-clinical studies for human cancer prevention. Beside its known effects on protein coding genes, one possible mechanism for resveratrol protective activities is by modulating the levels of non-coding RNAs. Here, we analyzed the effects of resveratrol on microRNA populations in human SW480 colon cancer cells. We establish that resveratrol treatment decreases the levels of several oncogenic microRNAs targeting genes encoding Dicer1, a cytoplasmic RNase III producing mature microRNAs from their immediate precursors, tumor suppressor factors such as PDCD4 or PTEN, as well as key effectors of the TGFβ signaling pathway, while increasing the levels of miR-663, a tumor-suppressor microRNA targeting TGFβ1 transcripts. We also show that, while upregulating several components of the TGFβ signaling pathway such as TGFβ receptors type I (TGFβR1) and type II (TGFβR2), resveratrol decreases the transcriptional activity of SMADs, the main effectors of the canonical TGFβ pathway. Our results establish that protective properties of resveratrol may arise at least in part from its capability to modify the composition of microRNA populations in cells, and suggest that the manipulation of the levels of key microRNAs, such as miR-663, may help to potentiate the anti-cancer and anti-metastatic effects of resveratrol.
doi:10.1016/j.bcp.2010.07.003
PMCID: PMC3918904  PMID: 20637737
Colon cancer; microRNAs; miR-663; resveratrol; SW480 cells; TGFβ
4.  Role of PTPRJ genotype in the risk for papillary thyroid carcinoma 
Endocrine-related cancer  2010;17(4):1001-1006.
The strong genetic predisposition to papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) might be due to a combination of low-penetrance susceptibility variants. Thus, the research into gene variants involved in the increase of susceptibility to PTC is a relevant field of investigation. The gene coding for the receptor-type tyrosine phosphatase PTPRJ has been proposed as a cancer susceptibility gene and its role as a tumor suppressor gene is well established in thyroid carcinogenesis. In this study we want to ascertain the role of PTPRJ genotype in the risk for papillary thyroid carcinoma. We performed a case-control study in which we determined the PTPRJ genotype for the non-synonymous Gln276Pro and Asp872Glu polymorphisms by PCR amplification and sequencing. We calculated allele and genotype frequencies for the considered polymorphisms of PTPRJ in a total sample of 299 cases (PTC patients) and 339 controls (healthy subjects) selected from Caucasian populations. We observed a significantly higher frequency of homozygotes for the Asp872 allele in the group of PTC patients than in the control group (OR = 1.61, 95% CI 1.15–2.25, P = 0.0053). We observed a non-significant increased frequency of homozygotes for Gln276Pro polymorphism in PTC cases in two distinct Caucasian populations. Therefore, the results reported here show that the homozygous genotype for Asp872 of PTPRJ is associated with an increased risk to develop papillary thyroid carcinoma.
doi:10.1677/ERC-10-0143
PMCID: PMC3915780  PMID: 20823296
papillary thyroid carcinoma; polymorphisms; protein tyrosine phosphatase; genetic predisposition
5.  Autocrine Function of Aldehyde Dehydrogenase 1 as a Determinant of Diet- and Sex-Specific Differences in Visceral Adiposity 
Diabetes  2012;62(1):124-136.
Mechanisms for sex- and depot-specific fat formation are unclear. We investigated the role of retinoic acid (RA) production by aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (Aldh1a1, -a2, and -a3), the major RA-producing enzymes, on sex-specific fat depot formation. Female Aldh1a1−/− mice, but not males, were resistant to high-fat (HF) diet–induced visceral adipose formation, whereas subcutaneous fat was reduced similarly in both groups. Sexual dimorphism in visceral fat (VF) was attributable to elevated adipose triglyceride lipase (Atgl) protein expression localized in clusters of multilocular uncoupling protein 1 (Ucp1)-positive cells in female Aldh1a1−/− mice compared with males. Estrogen decreased Aldh1a3 expression, limiting conversion of retinaldehyde (Rald) to RA. Rald effectively induced Atgl levels via nongenomic mechanisms, demonstrating indirect regulation by estrogen. Experiments in transgenic mice expressing an RA receptor response element (RARE-lacZ) revealed HF diet–induced RARE activation in VF of females but not males. In humans, stromal cells isolated from VF of obese subjects also expressed higher levels of Aldh1 enzymes compared with lean subjects. Our data suggest that an HF diet mediates VF formation through a sex-specific autocrine Aldh1 switch, in which Rald-mediated lipolysis in Ucp1-positive visceral adipocytes is replaced by RA-mediated lipid accumulation. Our data suggest that Aldh1 is a potential target for sex-specific antiobesity therapy.
doi:10.2337/db11-1779
PMCID: PMC3526050  PMID: 22933113
6.  Dysregulation of miR-31 and miR-21 induced by zinc deficiency promotes esophageal cancer 
Carcinogenesis  2012;33(9):1736-1744.
Zinc deficiency (ZD) increases the risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). In a rat model, chronic ZD induces an inflammatory gene signature that fuels ESCC development. microRNAs regulate gene expression and are aberrantly expressed in cancers. Here we investigated whether chronic ZD (23 weeks) also induces a protumorigenic microRNA signature. Using the nanoString technology, we evaluated microRNA profiles in ZD esophagus and six additional tissues (skin, lung, pancreas, liver, prostate and peripheral blood mononuclear cells [PBMC]). ZD caused overexpression of inflammation genes and altered microRNA expression across all tissues analyzed, predictive of disease development. Importantly, the inflammatory ZD esophagus had a distinct microRNA signature resembling human ESCC or tongue SCC miRNAomes with miR-31 and miR-21 as the top-up-regulated species. Circulating miR-31 was also the top-up-regulated species in PBMCs. In ZD esophagus and tongue, oncogenic miR-31 and miR-21 overexpression was accompanied by down-regulation of their respective tumor-suppressor targets PPP2R2A and PDCD4. Importantly, esophageal miR-31 and miR-21 levels were directly associated with the appearance of ESCC in ZD rats, as compared with their cancer-free Zn-sufficient or Zn-replenished counterparts. In situ hybridization analysis in rat and human tongue SCCs localized miR-31 to tumor cells and miR-21 to stromal cells. In regressing tongue SCCs from Zn-supplemented rats, miR-31 and miR-21 expression was concomitantly reduced, establishing their responsiveness to Zn therapy. A search for putative microRNA targets revealed a bias toward genes in inflammatory pathways. Our finding that ZD causes miR-31 and miR-21 dysregulation associated with inflammation provides insight into mechanisms whereby ZD promotes ESCC.
doi:10.1093/carcin/bgs204
PMCID: PMC3514898  PMID: 22689922
7.  miRNA profiling for biomarker discovery in Multiple Sclerosis: from microarray to deep sequencing 
Journal of Neuroimmunology  2011;248(1-2):32-39.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. miRNAs are highly expressed in cells of the immune and nervous system, attesting to their importance in Neuroimmunology. Besides their involvement in modulation of physiological and pathological processes, miRNAs hold high promise as disease biomarkers, therapeutic agents and/or drug targets. Several studies have recently explored the involvement of miRNAs in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) using a variety of miRNA profiling techniques. In this review, we discuss basic miRNA biology and nomenclature, the techniques available for miRNA profiling research and recent miRNA profiling studies in Multiple Sclerosis.
doi:10.1016/j.jneuroim.2011.10.006
PMCID: PMC3288464  PMID: 22078708
8.  Association of a MicroRNA/TP53 Feedback Circuitry With Pathogenesis and Outcome of B-Cell Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia 
Context
Chromosomal abnormalities (namely 13q, 17p, and 11q deletions) have prognostic implications and are recurrent in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), suggesting that they are involved in a common pathogenetic pathway; however, the molecular mechanism through which chromosomal abnormalities affect the pathogenesis and outcome of CLL is unknown.
Objective
To determine whether the microRNA miR-15a/miR-16-1 cluster (located at 13q), tumor protein p53 (TP53, located at 17p), and miR-34b/miR-34c cluster (located at 11q) are linked in a molecular pathway that explains the pathogenetic and prognostic implications (indolent vs aggressive form) of recurrent 13q, 17p, and 11q deletions in CLL.
Design, Setting, and Patients
CLL Research Consortium institutions provided blood samples from untreated patients (n=206) diagnosed with B-cell CLL between January 2000 and April 2008. All samples were evaluated for the occurrence of cytogenetic abnormalities as well as the expression levels of the miR-15a/miR-16-1 cluster, miR-34b/miR-34c cluster, TP53, and zeta-chain (TCR)–associated protein kinase 70kDa (ZAP70), a surrogate prognostic marker of CLL. The functional relationship between these genes was studied using in vitro gain- and loss-of-function experiments in celllines and primary samples and was validated in a separate cohort of primary CLL samples.
Main Outcome Measures
Cytogenetic abnormalities; expression levels of the miR-15a/miR-16-1 cluster, miR-34 family, TP53 gene, downstream effectors cyclindependent kinase inhibitor 1A (p21, Cip1) (CDKN1A) and B-cell CLL/lymphoma 2 binding component 3 (BBC3), and ZAP70 gene; genetic interactions detected by chromatin immunoprecipitation.
Results
In CLLs with13qdeletions the miR-15a/miR-16-1 cluster directly targetedTP53 (mean luciferase activity for miR-15a vs scrambled control, 0.68 relative light units (RLU) [95%confidence interval {CI}, 0.63–0.73]; P=.02;meanfor miR-16 vs scrambled control, 0.62RLU[95%CI, 0.59–0.65]; P=.02) and its downstream effectors. In leukemic cell lines and primary CLL cells, TP53 stimulated the transcription of miR-15/miR-16-1 as well as miR-34b/miR-34c clusters, and the miR-34b/miR-34c cluster directly targeted theZAP70 kinase(meanluciferase activity for miR-34a vs scrambled control, 0.33RLU [95%CI, 0.30–0.36]; P=.02;meanformiR-34bvsscrambledcontrol,0.31RLU [95%CI, 0.30–0.32];P=.01; and mean for miR-34c vs scrambled control, 0.35 RLU [95% CI, 0.33–0.37]; P=.02).
Conclusions
A microRNA/TP53 feedback circuitry is associated with CLL pathogenesis and outcome. This mechanism provides a novel pathogenetic model for the association of 13q deletions with the indolent form of CLL that involves microRNAs, TP53, and ZAP70
doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1919
PMCID: PMC3690301  PMID: 21205967
9.  MiR-34a/c-Dependent PDGFR-α/β Downregulation Inhibits Tumorigenesis and Enhances TRAIL-Induced Apoptosis in Lung Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67581.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality in the world today. Although some advances in lung cancer therapy have been made, patient survival is still poor. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) can act as oncogenes or tumor-suppressor genes in human malignancy. The miR-34 family consists of tumor-suppressive miRNAs, and its reduced expression has been reported in various cancers, including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In this study, we found that miR-34a and miR-34c target platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha and beta (PDGFR-α and PDGFR-β), cell surface tyrosine kinase receptors that induce proliferation, migration and invasion in cancer. MiR-34a and miR-34c were downregulated in lung tumors compared to normal tissues. Moreover, we identified an inverse correlation between PDGFR-α/β and miR-34a/c expression in lung tumor samples. Finally, miR-34a/c overexpression or downregulation of PDGFR-α/β by siRNAs, strongly augmented the response to TNF-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL) while reducing migratory and invasive capacity of NSCLC cells.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067581
PMCID: PMC3689725  PMID: 23805317
10.  Estrogen Mediated-Activation of miR-191/425 Cluster Modulates Tumorigenicity of Breast Cancer Cells Depending on Estrogen Receptor Status 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(3):e1003311.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs), single-stranded non-coding RNAs, influence myriad biological processes that can contribute to cancer. Although tumor-suppressive and oncogenic functions have been characterized for some miRNAs, the majority of microRNAs have not been investigated for their ability to promote and modulate tumorigenesis. Here, we established that the miR-191/425 cluster is transcriptionally dependent on the host gene, DALRD3, and that the hormone 17β-estradiol (estrogen or E2) controls expression of both miR-191/425 and DALRD3. MiR-191/425 locus characterization revealed that the recruitment of estrogen receptor α (ERα) to the regulatory region of the miR-191/425-DALRD3 unit resulted in the accumulation of miR-191 and miR-425 and subsequent decrease in DALRD3 expression levels. We demonstrated that miR-191 protects ERα positive breast cancer cells from hormone starvation-induced apoptosis through the suppression of tumor-suppressor EGR1. Furthermore, enforced expression of the miR-191/425 cluster in aggressive breast cancer cells altered global gene expression profiles and enabled us to identify important tumor promoting genes, including SATB1, CCND2, and FSCN1, as targets of miR-191 and miR-425. Finally, in vitro and in vivo experiments demonstrated that miR-191 and miR-425 reduced proliferation, impaired tumorigenesis and metastasis, and increased expression of epithelial markers in aggressive breast cancer cells. Our data provide compelling evidence for the transcriptional regulation of the miR-191/425 cluster and for its context-specific biological determinants in breast cancers. Importantly, we demonstrated that the miR-191/425 cluster, by reducing the expression of an extensive network of genes, has a fundamental impact on cancer initiation and progression of breast cancer cells.
Author Summary
MicroRNAs are small noncoding RNAs that act as posttranscriptional repressors of gene expression. A pivotal role for miRNAs in all the molecular processes driving initiation and progression of various malignancies, including breast cancer, has been described. Divergent miRNA expression between normal and neoplastic breast tissues has been demonstrated, as well as differential miRNA expression among the molecular subtypes of breast cancer. Over half of all breast cancers overexpress ERα, and several studies have shown that miRNA expression is controlled by ERα. We assessed the global change in microRNA expression after estrogen starvation and stimulation in breast cancer cells and identified that miR-191/425 and the host gene DALRD3 are positively associated to ERα-positive tumors. We demonstrated that ERα regulates the miR-191/425 cluster and verified the existence of a transcriptional network that allows a dual effect of estrogen on miR-191/425 and their host gene. We show that estrogen induction of miR-191/425 supports in vitro and in vivo the estrogen-dependent proliferation of ERα positive breast cancer cells. On the contrary, miR-191/425 cluster reprograms gene expression to impair tumorigenicity and metastatic potential of highly aggressive ERα negative breast cancer cells.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003311
PMCID: PMC3591271  PMID: 23505378
11.  Identification of Sensitive Serum microRNA Biomarkers for Radiation Biodosimetry 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e57603.
Exposure to ionizing radiation through environmental, occupational or a nuclear reactor accident such as the recent Fukushima Daiichi incident often results in major consequences to human health. The injury caused by radiation can manifest as acute radiation syndromes within weeks in organs with proliferating cells such as hematopoietic and gastrointestinal systems. Cancers, fibrosis and degenerative diseases are also reported in organs with differentiated cells, months or years later. Studies conducted on atom bomb survivors, nuclear reactor workers and animal models have shown a direct correlation of these effects with the absorbed dose. Physical dosimeters and the available radio-responsive biologics in body fluids, whose responses are rather indirect, have limitations to accurately evaluate the extent of post exposure damage. We have used an amplification-free, hybridization based quantitative assay utilizing the nCounter multiplex platform developed by nanoString Technologies to compare the levels of over 600 miRNAs in serum from mice irradiated at a range of 1 to 12 Gy at 24 and 48 hr time points. Development of a novel normalization strategy using multiple spike-in oligonucleotides allowed accurate measurement of radiation dose and time dependent changes in serum miRNAs. The response of several evolutionarily conserved miRNAs abundant in serum, were found to be robust and sensitive in the dose range relevant for medical triage and in patients who receive total body radiation as preparative regimen for bone marrow transplantation. Notably, miRNA-150, abundant in lymphocytes, exhibited a dose and time dependent decrease in serum, which we propose as a sensitive marker indicative of lymphocyte depletion and bone marrow damage. Our study has identified several markers useful for evaluation of an individual’s response by minimally invasive methods, relevant to triage in case of a radiation accident and evaluation of toxicity and response during and after therapeutic radiation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057603
PMCID: PMC3581493  PMID: 23451251
12.  Integrated MicroRNA and mRNA Signatures Associated with Survival in Triple Negative Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55910.
Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a heterogeneous disease at the molecular, pathologic and clinical levels. To stratify TNBCs, we determined microRNA (miRNA) expression profiles, as well as expression profiles of a cancer-focused mRNA panel, in tumor, adjacent non-tumor (normal) and lymph node metastatic lesion (mets) tissues, from 173 women with TNBCs; we linked specific miRNA signatures to patient survival and used miRNA/mRNA anti-correlations to identify clinically and genetically different TNBC subclasses. We also assessed miRNA signatures as potential regulators of TNBC subclass-specific gene expression networks defined by expression of canonical signal pathways.
Tissue specific miRNAs and mRNAs were identified for normal vs tumor vs mets comparisons. miRNA signatures correlated with prognosis were identified and predicted anti-correlated targets within the mRNA profile were defined. Two miRNA signatures (miR-16, 155, 125b, 374a and miR-16, 125b, 374a, 374b, 421, 655, 497) predictive of overall survival (P = 0.05) and distant-disease free survival (P = 0.009), respectively, were identified for patients 50 yrs of age or younger. By multivariate analysis the risk signatures were independent predictors for overall survival and distant-disease free survival. mRNA expression profiling, using the cancer-focused mRNA panel, resulted in clustering of TNBCs into 4 molecular subclasses with different expression signatures anti-correlated with the prognostic miRNAs.
Our findings suggest that miRNAs play a key role in triple negative breast cancer through their ability to regulate fundamental pathways such as: cellular growth and proliferation, cellular movement and migration, Extra Cellular Matrix degradation. The results define miRNA expression signatures that characterize and contribute to the phenotypic diversity of TNBC and its metastasis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055910
PMCID: PMC3566108  PMID: 23405235
13.  Down-regulation of p53-inducible microRNAs 192, 194 and 215 impairs the p53/MDM2 auto-regulatory loop in multiple myeloma development 
Cancer cell  2010;18(4):367-381.
Summary
In multiple myeloma (MM), an incurable B-cell neoplasm, mutation or deletion of p53 is rarely detected at diagnosis. Using small-molecule inhibitors of MDM2, we provide evidence that miR-192, 194 and 215, which are down-regulated in a subset of newly diagnosed MMs, can be transcriptionally activated by p53 and then modulate MDM2 expression. Furthermore, ectopic re-expression of these miRNAs in MM cells increases the therapeutic action of MDM2 inhibitors in vitro and in vivo by enhancing their p53-activating effects. In addition, miR-192 and 215 target the IGF pathway, preventing enhanced migration of plasma cells into bone marrow. The results suggest that these miRNAs are positive regulators of p53 and that their down-regulation plays a key role in MM development.
doi:10.1016/j.ccr.2010.09.005
PMCID: PMC3561766  PMID: 20951946
14.  EGFR and MET receptor tyrosine kinase-altered microRNA expression induces tumorigenesis and gefitinib resistance in lung cancers 
Nature medicine  2011;18(1):74-82.
The involvement of the MET oncogene in de novo and acquired resistance of non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) to tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) has been reported, but the precise mechanism by which MET overexpression contributes to TKI-resistant NSCLC remains unclear. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) negatively regulate gene expression and their dysregulation has been implicated in tumorigenesis. To understand the role of microRNAs in TKI-resistant NSCLC, we examined TK receptor-mediated microRNA changes. Here we report that miR-30b/c and miR-221/222, modulated by both EGF and MET receptors, and miR-103, -203, controlled only by MET, play important roles in gefitinib-induced apoptosis and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of NSCLC cells, in vitro and in vivo, by inhibiting the expression of Bim, APAF-1, PKC-ε and SRC genes. The finding suggests that modulation of specific microRNAs may provide a therapeutic approach for future treatment of NSCLC.
doi:10.1038/nm.2577
PMCID: PMC3467100  PMID: 22157681
15.  Mutations in U4atac snRNA, a Component of the Minor Spliceosome, in the Developmental Disorder MOPD I 
Science (New York, N.y.)  2011;332(6026):238-240.
Small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs) are essential factors in mRNA splicing. By homozygosity mapping and deep sequencing, we show that a gene encoding U4atac snRNA, a component of the minor U12-dependent spliceosome, is mutated in individuals with microcephalic osteodysplastic primordial dwarfism type I (MOPD I), a severe developmental disorder characterized by extreme intrauterine growth retardation and multiple organ abnormalities. Functional assays show that mutations (30G>A, 51G>A, 55G>A, and 111G>A) associated with MOPD I cause defective U12-dependent splicing. Endogenous U12-dependent but not U2-dependent introns are poorly spliced in MOPD I patient fibroblast cells while introduction of wild type U4atac snRNA into MOPD I cells enhances U12-dependent splicing. These results illustrate the critical role of minor intron splicing in human development.
doi:10.1126/science.1200587
PMCID: PMC3380448  PMID: 21474760
microcephalic osteodysplastic primordial dwarfism type I; RNU4ATAC; mutation; splicing; snRNA; minor spliceosome
16.  p53 regulates epithelial–mesenchymal transition through microRNAs targeting ZEB1 and ZEB2 
By transactivating expression of miRNAs that repress expression of the ZEB1 and ZEB2 transcription factors, p53 inhibits the epithelial–mesenchymal transition.
p53 suppresses tumor progression and metastasis. Epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a key process in tumor progression and metastasis. The transcription factors ZEB1 and ZEB2 promote EMT. Here, we show that p53 suppresses EMT by repressing expression of ZEB1 and ZEB2. By profiling 92 primary hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) and 9 HCC cell lines, we found that p53 up-regulates microRNAs (miRNAs), including miR-200 and miR-192 family members. The miR-200 family members transactivated by p53 then repress ZEB1/2 expression. p53-regulated miR-192 family members also repress ZEB2 expression. Inhibition or overexpression of the miRNAs affects p53-regulated EMT by altering ZEB1 and ZEB2 expression. Our findings indicate that p53 can regulate EMT, and that p53-regulated miRNAs are critical mediators of p53-regulated EMT.
doi:10.1084/jem.20110235
PMCID: PMC3092351  PMID: 21518799
17.  MicroRNA Cluster 221-222 and Estrogen Receptor α Interactions in Breast Cancer 
Background
Several lines of evidence have suggested that estrogen receptor α (ERα)–negative breast tumors, which are highly aggressive and nonresponsive to hormonal therapy, arise from ERα-positive precursors through different molecular pathways. Because microRNAs (miRNAs) modulate gene expression, we hypothesized that they may have a role in ER-negative tumor formation.
Methods
Gene expression profiles were used to highlight the global changes induced by miRNA modulation of ERα protein. miRNA transfection and luciferase assays enabled us to identify new targets of miRNA 206 (miR-206) and miRNA cluster 221-222 (miR-221-222). Northern blot, luciferase assays, estradiol treatment, and chromatin immunoprecipitation were performed to identify the miR-221-222 transcription unit and the mechanism implicated in its regulation.
Results
Different global changes in gene expression were induced by overexpression of miR-221-222 and miR-206 in ER-positive cells. miR-221 and -222 increased proliferation of ERα-positive cells, whereas miR-206 had an inhibitory effect (mean absorbance units [AU]: miR-206: 500 AU, 95% confidence interval [CI]) = 480 to 520; miR-221: 850 AU, 95% CI = 810 to 873; miR-222: 879 AU, 95% CI = 850 to 893; P < .05). We identified hepatocyte growth factor receptor and forkhead box O3 as new targets of miR-206 and miR-221-222, respectively. We demonstrated that ERα negatively modulates miR-221 and -222 through the recruitment of transcriptional corepressor partners: nuclear receptor corepressor and silencing mediator of retinoic acid and thyroid hormone receptor.
Conclusions
These findings suggest that the negative regulatory loop involving miR-221-222 and ERα may confer proliferative advantage and migratory activity to breast cancer cells and promote the transition from ER-positive to ER-negative tumors.
doi:10.1093/jnci/djq102
PMCID: PMC2873185  PMID: 20388878
18.  MicroRNA Profiles of Drug-Resistant Myeloma Cell Lines 
Acta Haematologica  2010;123(4):201-204.
doi:10.1159/000302889
PMCID: PMC2881892  PMID: 20357429
19.  Non-codingRNA sequence variations in human chronic lymphocytic leukemia and colorectal cancer 
Carcinogenesis  2009;31(2):208-215.
Cancer is a genetic disease in which the interplay between alterations in protein-coding genes and non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) plays a fundamental role. In recent years, the full coding component of the human genome was sequenced in various cancers, whereas such attempts related to ncRNAs are still fragmentary. We screened genomic DNAs for sequence variations in 148 microRNAs (miRNAs) and ultraconserved regions (UCRs) loci in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or colorectal cancer (CRC) by Sanger technique and further tried to elucidate the functional consequences of some of these variations. We found sequence variations in miRNAs in both sporadic and familial CLL cases, mutations of UCRs in CLLs and CRCs and, in certain instances, detected functional effects of these variations. Furthermore, by integrating our data with previously published data on miRNA sequence variations, we have created a catalog of DNA sequence variations in miRNAs/ultraconserved genes in human cancers. These findings argue that ncRNAs are targeted by both germ line and somatic mutations as well as by single-nucleotide polymorphisms with functional significance for human tumorigenesis. Sequence variations in ncRNA loci are frequent and some have functional and biological significance. Such information can be exploited to further investigate on a genome-wide scale the frequency of genetic variations in ncRNAs and their functional meaning, as well as for the development of new diagnostic and prognostic markers for leukemias and carcinomas.
doi:10.1093/carcin/bgp209
PMCID: PMC2812567  PMID: 19926640
20.  MicroRNA-375 and MicroRNA-221 
Genes & Cancer  2011;2(2):108-119.
The deregulated presence or absence of microRNAs (miRNAs) might play an important role in molecular pathways leading to neoplastic transformation. At present, it is also thought that the approaches to interfere miRNA functions should be helpful for developing novel therapeutic opportunities for human cancer. In this study, we provide evidence that the anticancer agent benzyl isothiocyanate (BITC) has the ability to modulate the level of miRNAs such as miR-221 and miR-375, known to be abnormally expressed in pancreatic cancer patients. Interestingly, ectopic expression of miR-375 or the enforced silencing of miR-221 in cultured pancreatic cancer cells attenuates cell viability and sensitizes antiproliferative action of BITC. We also show that the expression of putative tumor suppressor miR-375 is more abundant in nonpathological mice pancreata than those with KrasG12D-driven pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN). To the contrary, the expression of oncogenic miR-221 is significantly elevated in the mouse pancreas with PanIN lesions. Although miR-375 has been shown to be aberrantly expressed in pancreatic cancer patients, there has not been a comprehensive study to investigate the molecular pathways targeted by this miRNA in pancreatic cancer cells. Further analysis by gene expression microarray revealed that IGFBP5 and CAV-1, potential biomarkers of pancreatic cancer, were significantly downregulated in cells transfected with miR-375. Correlatively, elevated expression of IGFBP5 and CAV-1 was evident in the mouse pancreas with preneoplastic lesions in which the expression of miR-375 wanes. Taken together, our findings suggest that anticancer agent BITC might target the expression of miR-221 and miR-375 to switch hyperproliferative pancreatic cancer cells to a hypoproliferative state.
doi:10.1177/1947601911409212
PMCID: PMC3111247  PMID: 21779484
microRNAs; pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia; pancreatic cancer; benzyl isothiocyanate; antiproliferative effect; IGFBP5
21.  MiR-221&222 regulate TRAIL-resistance and enhance tumorigenicity through PTEN and TIMP3 down-regulation 
Cancer cell  2009;16(6):498-509.
Summary
Lung and liver cancers are among the most deadly types of cancer. Despite improvements in treatment over the past few decades, patient survival remains poor, underlining the need for development of targeted therapies. MicroRNAs represent a class of small RNAs, frequently deregulated in human malignancies. We now report that miR221&222 are over-expressed in aggressive non small cell lung cancer and hepatocarcinoma cells, as compared with less invasive and/or normal lung and liver cells. We show that miR-221&222, by targeting PTEN and TIMP3 tumor suppressors, induce TRAIL resistance and enhance cellular migration through the activation of the AKT pathway and metallopeptidases. Finally, we demonstrate that the MET oncogene is involved in miR-221&222 activation, through the c-Jun transcription factor.
doi:10.1016/j.ccr.2009.10.014
PMCID: PMC2796583  PMID: 19962668
22.  GAM/ZFp/ZNF512B is central to a gene sensor circuitry involving cell-cycle regulators, TGFβ effectors, Drosha and microRNAs with opposite oncogenic potentials 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(21):7673-7688.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small regulatory RNAs targeting multiple effectors of cell homeostasis and development, whose malfunctions are associated with major pathologies such as cancer. Herein we show that GAM/ZFp/ZNF512B works within an intricate gene regulatory network involving cell-cycle regulators, TGFβ effectors and oncogenic miRNAs of the miR-17-92 cluster. Thus, GAM impairs the transcriptional activation of the miR-17-92 promoter by c-Myc, downregulates miR-17-92 miRNAs differentially, and limits the activation of genes responsive to TGFβ canonical pathway. In contrast, TGFβ decreases GAM transcripts levels while differentially upregulating miR-17-92 miRNAs. In turn, miR-17, miR-20a and miR-92a-1 target GAM transcripts, thus establishing a feedback autoregulatory loop. GAM transcripts are also targeted by miRNAs of the let-7 family. GAM downregulates Drosha, the main effector of miRNA maturation in the nucleus, and interacts with it in a RNA-dependent manner. Finally, GAM modulates the levels of E2F1 and Ras, and increases apoptosis while reducing cell proliferation. We propose that GAM represents a new kind of vertebrate regulator aimed at balancing the opposite effects of regulators of cell homeostasis by increasing the robustness of gene circuitries controlling cell proliferation, differentiation and development.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkq637
PMCID: PMC2995059  PMID: 20639536
23.  Zinc Replenishment Reverses Overexpression of the Proinflammatory Mediator S100A8 and Esophageal Preneoplasia in the Rat 
Gastroenterology  2008;136(3):953-966.
Background & Aims
Zinc-deficiency is implicated in the pathogenesis of human esophageal cancer. In the rat esophagus, it induces cell proliferation, modulates genetic expression, and enhances carcinogenesis. Zinc-replenishment reverses proliferation and inhibits carcinogenesis. The zinc-deficient rat model allows the identification of biological differences affected by zinc during early esophageal carcinogenesis.
Methods
We evaluated gene expression profiles of esophageal epithelia from zinc-deficient and replenished rats versus sufficient rats using Affymetrix Rat Genome GeneChip. We characterized the role of the top-upregulated gene S100A8 in esophageal hyperplasia/reversal and in chemically-induced esophageal carcinogenesis in zinc-modulated animals by immunohistochemistry and real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction.
Results
The hyperplastic deficient esophagus has a distinct expression signature with the proinflammation-gene S100A8 and S100A9 upregulated 57- and 5-fold. “Response to external stimulus” comprising S100A8 was the only significantly overrepresented biological pathway among the upregulated genes. Zinc-replenishment rapidly restored to control levels the expression of S100A8/A9 and 27 other genes and reversed the hyperplastic phenotype. With its receptor RAGE, co-localization and overexpression of S100A8 protein occurred in the deficient esophagus that overexpressed NF-κB p65 and COX-2 protein. Zinc-replenishment but not by a COX-2 inhibitor reduced the overexpression of these 4 proteins. Additionally, esophageal S100A8/A9 mRNA levels were directly associated with the diverse tumorigenic outcome in zinc-deficient and zinc-replenished rats.
Conclusions
In vivo zinc regulates S100A8 expression and modulates the link between S100A8-RAGE interaction and downstream NF-κB/COX-2 signaling. The finding that zinc regulates an inflammatory pathway in esophageal carcinogenesis may lead to prevention and therapy for this cancer.
doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2008.11.039
PMCID: PMC2650087  PMID: 19111725
24.  Genome Wide Identification of Recessive Cancer Genes by Combinatorial Mutation Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(10):e3380.
We devised a novel procedure to identify human cancer genes acting in a recessive manner. Our strategy was to combine the contributions of the different types of genetic alterations to loss of function: amino-acid substitutions, frame-shifts, gene deletions. We studied over 20,000 genes in 3 Gigabases of coding sequences and 700 array comparative genomic hybridizations. Recessive genes were scored according to nucleotide mismatches under positive selective pressure, frame-shifts and genomic deletions in cancer. Four different tests were combined together yielding a cancer recessive p-value for each studied gene. One hundred and fifty four candidate recessive cancer genes (p-value<1.5×10−7, FDR = 0.39) were identified. Strikingly, the prototypical cancer recessive genes TP53, PTEN and CDKN2A all ranked in the top 0.5% genes. The functions significantly affected by cancer mutations are exactly overlapping those of known cancer genes, with the critical exception for the absence of tyrosine kinases, as expected for a recessive gene-set.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003380
PMCID: PMC2557123  PMID: 18846217
25.  Fez1/Lzts1 absence impairs Cdk1/Cdc25C interaction during mitosis and predisposes to cancer development 
Cancer cell  2007;11(3):275-289.
Summary
The FEZ1/LZTS1 (LZTS1) protein is frequently downregulated in human cancers of different histotypes. LZTS1 is expressed in normal tissues, and its introduction in cancer cells inhibits cell growth and suppresses tumorigenicity, owing to an accumulation of cells in G2/M. Here we define its role in cell cycle regulation and tumor progression by generating Lzts1 knock-out mice. In Lzts1−/− mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs), Cdc25C degradation was increased during M phase resulting in decreased Cdk1 activity. As a consequence, −/− MEFs showed accelerated mitotic progression, resistance to taxol- and nocodazole-induced M phase arrest, and improper chromosome segregation. Accordingly, Lzts1 deficiency was associated with an increased incidence of both spontaneous and carcinogen-induced cancers in mice.
doi:10.1016/j.ccr.2007.01.014
PMCID: PMC1987708  PMID: 17349584
Fez1/Lzts1; Knockout mice; Cdc2; CdC25C; NMBA

Results 1-25 (27)