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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.
PMCID: PMC4055753  PMID: 24921248
2.  EGFR modulates microRNA maturation in response to hypoxia through phosphorylation of AGO2 
Nature  2013;497(7449):383-387.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are generated by two-step processing to yield small RNAs that negatively regulate target gene expression at the post-transcriptional level1. Deregulation of miRNAs has been linked to diverse pathological processes, including cancer2,3. Recent studies have also implicated miRNAs in the regulation of cellular response to a spectrum of stresses4, such as hypoxia, which is frequently encountered in the poorly angiogenic core of a solid tumour5. However, the upstream regulators of miRNA biogenesis machineries remain obscure, raising the question of how tumour cells efficiently coordinate and impose specificity on miRNA expression and function in response to stresses. Here we show that epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which is the product of a well-characterized oncogene in human cancers, suppresses the maturation of specific tumour-suppressor-like miRNAs in response to hypoxic stress through phosphorylation of argonaute 2 (AGO2) at Tyr 393. The association between EGFR and AGO2 is enhanced by hypoxia, leading to elevated AGO2-Y393 phosphorylation, which in turn reduces the binding of Dicer to AGO2 and inhibits miRNA processing from precursor miRNAs to mature miRNAs. We also identify a long-loop structure in precursor miRNAs as a critical regulatory element in phospho-Y393-AGO2-mediated miRNA maturation. Furthermore, AGO2-Y393 phosphorylation mediates EGFR-enhanced cell survival and invasiveness under hypoxia, and correlates with poorer overall survival in breast cancer patients. Our study reveals a previously unrecognized function of EGFR in miRNA maturation and demonstrates how EGFR is likely to function as a regulator of AGO2 through novel post-translational modification. These findings suggest that modulation of miRNA biogenesis is important for stress response in tumour cells and has potential clinical implications.
PMCID: PMC3717558  PMID: 23636329
3.  Transcriptome and Small RNA Deep Sequencing Reveals Deregulation of miRNA Biogenesis in Human Glioma 
The Journal of pathology  2013;229(3):10.1002/path.4109.
Altered expression of oncogenic and tumor-suppressing microRNAs (miRNAs) is widely associated with tumorigenesis. However, the regulatory mechanisms underlying these alterations are poorly understood. We sought to shed light on the deregulation of miRNA biogenesis promoting the aberrant miRNA expression profiles identified in these tumors. Using sequencing technology to perform both whole-transcriptome and small RNA sequencing of glioma patient samples, we examined precursor and mature miRNAs to directly evaluate the miRNA maturation process, and interrogated expression profiles for genes involved in the major steps of miRNA biogenesis. We found that ratios of mature to precursor forms of a large number of miRNAs increased with the progression from normal brain to low-grade and then to high-grade gliomas. The expression levels of genes involved in each of the three major steps of miRNA biogenesis (nuclear processing, nucleo-cytoplasmic transport, and cytoplasmic processing) were systematically altered in glioma tissues. Survival analysis of an independent data set demonstrated that the alteration of genes involved in miRNA maturation correlates with survival in glioma patients. Direct quantification of miRNA maturation with deep sequencing demonstrated that deregulation of the miRNA biogenesis pathway is a hallmark for glioma genesis and progression.
PMCID: PMC3857031  PMID: 23007860
microRNA; biogenesis; glioma
4.  AMPKα Modulation in Cancer Progression: Multilayer Integrative Analysis of the Whole Transcriptome in Asian Gastric Cancer 
Cancer research  2012;72(10):10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-11-3870.
Gastric cancer is the most common cancer in Asia and most developing countries. Despite the use of multimodality therapeutics, it remains the second leading cause of cancer death in the world. To identify the molecular underpinnings of gastric cancer in the Asian population, we applied an RNA-sequencing approach to gastric tumor and noncancerous specimens, generating 680 million informative short reads to quantitatively characterize the entire transcriptome of gastric cancer (including mRNAs and microRNAs). A multi-layer analysis was then developed to identify multiple types of transcriptional aberrations associated with different stages of gastric cancer, including differentially expressed mRNAs, recurrent somatic mutations and key differentially expressed microRNAs. Through this approach, we identified the central metabolic regulator AMPK-α as a potential functional target in Asian gastric cancer. Further, we experimentally demonstrated the translational relevance of this gene as a potential therapeutic target for early-stage gastric cancer in Asian patients. Together, our findings not only provide a valuable information resource for identifying and elucidating the molecular mechanisms of Asian gastric cancer, but also represent a general integrative framework to develop more effective therapeutic targets.
PMCID: PMC3872998  PMID: 22434430
RNA-sequencing; integrative analysis; microRNA; AMPK; gastric cancer
5.  MicroRNA expression profiling of male breast cancer 
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small noncoding RNAs that control gene expression by targeting mRNAs and triggering either translation repression or RNA degradation. Their aberrant expression may be involved in human diseases, including cancer. To test the hypothesis that there is a specific miRNA expression signature which characterizes male breast cancers, we performed miRNA microarray analysis in a series of male breast cancers and compared them with cases of male gynecomastia and female breast cancers.
Paraffin blocks were obtained at the Department of Pathology of Thomas Jefferson University from 28 male patients including 23 breast cancers and five cases of male gynecomastia, and from 10 female ductal breast carcinomas. The RNA harvested was hybridized to miRNA microarrays (~1,100 miRNA probes, including 326 human and 249 mouse miRNA genes, spotted in duplicate). To further support the microarray data, an immunohistochemical analysis for two specific miRNA gene targets (HOXD10 and VEGF) was performed in a small series of male breast carcinoma and gynecomastia samples.
We identified a male breast cancer miRNA signature composed of a large portion of underexpressed miRNAs. In particular, 17 miRNAs with increased expression and 26 miRNAs with decreased expression were identified in male breast cancer compared with gynecomastia. Among these miRNAs, some had well-characterized cancer development association and some showed a deregulation in cancer specimens similar to the one previously observed in the published signatures of female breast cancer. Comparing male with female breast cancer miRNA expression signatures, 17 significantly deregulated miRNAs were observed (four overexpressed and 13 underexpressed in male breast cancers). The HOXD10 and VEGF gene immunohistochemical expression significantly follows the corresponding miRNA deregulation.
Our results suggest that specific miRNAs may be directly involved in male breast cancer development and that they may represent a novel diagnostic tool in the characterization of specific cancer gene targets.
PMCID: PMC2750120  PMID: 19664288
6.  Compatible solutes from hyperthermophiles improve the quality of DNA microarrays 
BMC Biotechnology  2007;7:82.
DNA microarrays are among the most widely used technical platforms for DNA and RNA studies, and issues related to microarrays sensitivity and specificity are therefore of general importance in life sciences. Compatible solutes are derived from hyperthermophilic microorganisms and allow such microorganisms to survive in environmental and stressful conditions. Compatible solutes show stabilization effects towards biological macromolecules, including DNA.
We report here that compatible solutes from hyperthermophiles increased the performance of the hybridization buffer for Affymetrix GeneChip® arrays. The experimental setup included independent hybridizations with constant RNA over a wide range of compatible solute concentrations. The dependence of array quality and compatible solute was assessed using specialized statistical tools provided by both the proprietary Affymetrix quality control system and the open source Bioconductor suite.
Low concentration (10 to 25 mM) of hydroxyectoine, potassium mannosylglycerate and potassium diglycerol phosphate in hybridization buffer positively affected hybridization parameters and enhanced microarrays outcome. This finding harbours a strong potential for the improvement of DNA microarray experiments.
PMCID: PMC2248183  PMID: 18036223
7.  mRNA/microRNA gene expression profile in microsatellite unstable colorectal cancer 
Molecular Cancer  2007;6:54.
Colorectal cancer develops through two main genetic instability pathways characterized by distinct pathologic features and clinical outcome.
We investigated colon cancer samples (23 characterized by microsatellite stability, MSS, and 16 by high microsatellite instability, MSI-H) for genome-wide expression of microRNA (miRNA) and mRNA. Based on combined miRNA and mRNA gene expression, a molecular signature consisting of twenty seven differentially expressed genes, inclusive of 8 miRNAs, could correctly distinguish MSI-H versus MSS colon cancer samples. Among the differentially expressed miRNAs, various members of the oncogenic miR-17-92 family were significantly up-regulated in MSS cancers. The majority of protein coding genes were also up-regulated in MSS cancers. Their functional classification revealed that they were most frequently associated with cell cycle, DNA replication, recombination, repair, gastrointestinal disease and immune response.
This is the first report that indicates the existence of differences in miRNA expression between MSS versus MSI-H colorectal cancers. In addition, the work suggests that the combination of mRNA/miRNA expression signatures may represent a general approach for improving bio-molecular classification of human cancer.
PMCID: PMC2048978  PMID: 17716371
8.  DNA and protein co-administration induces tolerogenic dendritic cells through DC-SIGN mediated negative signals 
Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics  2013;9(10):2237-2245.
We previously demonstrated that DNA and protein co-administration induced differentiation of immature dendritic cells (iDCs) into CD11c+CD40lowIL-10+ regulatory DCs (DCregs) via the caveolin-1 (Cav-1) -mediated signal pathway. Here, we demonstrate that production of IL-10 and the low expression of CD40 play a critical role in the subsequent induction of regulatory T cells (Tregs) by the DCregs. We observed that DNA and protein were co-localized with DC-SIGN in caveolae and early lysosomes in the treated DCs, as indicated by co-localization with Cav-1 and EEA-1 compartment markers. DNA and protein also co-localized with LAMP-2. Gene-array analysis of gene expression showed that more than a thousand genes were significantly changed by the DC co-treatment with DNA + protein compared with controls. Notably, the level of DC-SIGN expression was dramatically upregulated in pOVA + OVA co-treated DCs. The expression levels of Rho and Rho GNEF, the down-stream molecules of DC-SIGN mediated signal pathway, were also greatly upregulated. Further, the level of TLR9, the traditional DNA receptor, was significantly downregulated. These results suggest that DC-SIGN as the potential receptor for DNA and protein might trigger the negative pathway to contribute the induction of DCreg combining with Cav-1 mediated negative signal pathway.
PMCID: PMC3906410  PMID: 24051433
DNA and protein co-administration; cavelin-1; DC-SIGN; iTreg; tolerance
9.  Global gene expression profiling of cells overexpressing SMC3 
Molecular Cancer  2005;4:34.
The Structural Maintenance of Chromosome 3 protein (SMC3) plays an essential role during the sister chromatid separation, is involved in DNA repair and recombination and participates in microtubule-mediated intracellular transport. SMC3 is frequently elevated in human colon carcinoma and overexpression of the protein transforms murine NIH3T3 fibroblasts. In order to gain insight into the mechanism of SMC3-mediated tumorigenesis a gene expression profiling was performed on human 293 cells line stably overexpressing SMC3.
Biotinylated complementary RNA (cRNA) was used for hybridization of a cDNAmicroarray chip harboring 18,861 65-mer oligos derived from the published dEST sequences. After filtering, the hybridization data were normalized and statistically analyzed. Sixty-five genes for which a putative function could be assigned displayed at least two-fold change in their expression level. Eighteen of the affected genes is either a transcriptional factor or is involved in DNA and chromatin related mechanisms whereas most of those involved in signal transduction are members or modulators of the ras-rho/GTPase and cAMP signaling pathways. In particular the expression of RhoB and CRE-BPa, two mediators of cellular transformation, was significantly enhanced. This association was confirmed by analyzing the RhoB and CRE-BPa transcript levels in cells transiently transfected with an SMC3 expression vector. Consistent with the idea that the activation of ras-rho/GTPase and cAMP pathways is relevant in the context of the cellular changes following SMC3 overexpression, gene transactivation through the related serum (SRE) and cAMP (CRE) cis-acting response elements was significantly increased.
We have documented a selective effect of the ectopic expression of SMC3 on a set of genes and transcriptional signaling pathways that are relevant for tumorigenesis. The results lead to postulate that RhoB and CRE-BPa two known oncogenic mediators whose expression is significantly increased following SMC3 overexpression play a significant role in mediating SMC3 tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC1242249  PMID: 16156898
10.  Coordinate control of cell cycle regulatory genes in zebrafish development tested by cyclin D1 knockdown with morpholino phosphorodiamidates and hydroxyprolyl-phosphono peptide nucleic acids 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(15):4914-4921.
During early zebrafish (Danio rerio) development zygotic transcription does not begin until the mid-blastula transition (MBT) ∼3 h after fertilization. MBT demarcates transition from synchronous short cell cycles of S and M phases exclusively to full cycles encompassing G1 and G2 phases. Transcriptional profiling and RT–PCR analyses during these phases enabled us to determine that this shift corresponds to decreased transcript levels of S/M phase cell cycle control genes (e.g. ccna2, ccnb1, ccnb2 and ccne) and increased transcript levels of ccnd1, encoding cyclin D1, and orthologs of p21 (p21-like) and retinoblastoma (Rb-like 1). To investigate the regulation of this process further, the translation of ccnd1 mRNA, a G1/S checkpoint control element, was impaired by microinjection of ccnd1-specific morpholino phosphorodiamidate (MO) 20mer or hydroxyprolyl-phosphono peptide nucleic acid (HypNA-pPNA) 16mer antisense oligonucleotides. The resulting downregulation of cyclin D1 protein resulted in microophthalmia and microcephaly, but not lethality. The phenotypes were not seen with 3-mismatch MO 20mers or 1-mismatch HypNA-pPNA 16mers, and were rescued by an exogenous ccnd1 mRNA construct with five mismatches. Collectively, these results indicate that transcription of key molecular determinants of asynchronous cell cycle control in zebrafish embryos commences at MBT and that the reduction of cyclin D1 expression compromises zebrafish eye and head development.
PMCID: PMC1199556  PMID: 16284195
11.  MicroRNAs 221 and 222 Bypass Quiescence and Compromise Cell Survival 
Cancer research  2008;68(8):2773-2780.
MicroRNAs (miRNA) have tumor suppressive and oncogenic potential in human cancer, but whether and how miRNAs control cell cycle progression is not understood. To address this question, we carried out a comprehensive analysis of miRNA expression during serum stimulation of quiescent human cells. Time course analyses revealed that four miRNAs are up-regulated and >100 miRNAs are down-regulated, as cells progress beyond the G1-S phase transition. We analyzed the function of two up-regulated miRNAs (miR-221 and miR-222) that are both predicted to target the cell growth suppressive cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors p27 and p57. Our results show that miR-221 and miR-222 both directly target the 3′ untranslated regions of p27 and p57 mRNAs to reduce reporter gene expression, as well as diminish p27 and p57 protein levels. Functional studies show that miR-221 and miR-222 prevent quiescence when elevated during growth factor deprivation and induce precocious S-phase entry, thereby triggering cell death. Thus, the physiologic upregulation of miR-221 and miR-222 is tightly linked to a cell cycle checkpoint that ensures cell survival by coordinating competency for initiation of S phase with growth factor signaling pathways that stimulate cell proliferation.
PMCID: PMC3613850  PMID: 18413744
12.  Transcription signatures encoded by ultraconserved genomic regions in human prostate cancer 
Molecular Cancer  2013;12:13.
Ultraconserved regions (UCR) are genomic segments of more than 200 base pairs that are evolutionarily conserved among mammalian species. They are thought to have functions as transcriptional enhancers and regulators of alternative splicing. Recently, it was shown that numerous RNAs are transcribed from these regions. These UCR-encoded transcripts (ucRNAs) were found to be expressed in a tissue- and disease-specific manner and may interfere with the function of other RNAs through RNA: RNA interactions. We hypothesized that ucRNAs have unidentified roles in the pathogenesis of human prostate cancer. In a pilot study, we examined ucRNA expression profiles in human prostate tumors.
Using a custom microarray with 962 probesets representing sense and antisense sequences for the 481 human UCRs, we examined ucRNA expression in resected, fresh-frozen human prostate tissues (57 tumors, 7 non-cancerous prostate tissues) and in cultured prostate cancer cells treated with either epigenetic drugs (the hypomethylating agent, 5-Aza 2′deoxycytidine, and the histone deacetylase inhibitor, trichostatin A) or a synthetic androgen, R1881. Expression of selected ucRNAs was also assessed by qRT-PCR and NanoString®-based assays. Because ucRNAs may function as RNAs that target protein-coding genes through direct and inhibitory RNA: RNA interactions, computational analyses were applied to identify candidate ucRNA:mRNA binding pairs.
We observed altered ucRNA expression in prostate cancer (e.g., uc.106+, uc.477+, uc.363 + A, uc.454 + A) and found that these ucRNAs were associated with cancer development, Gleason score, and extraprostatic extension after controlling for false discovery (false discovery rate < 5% for many of the transcripts). We also identified several ucRNAs that were responsive to treatment with either epigenetic drugs or androgen (R1881). For example, experiments with LNCaP human prostate cancer cells showed that uc.287+ is induced by R1881 (P < 0.05) whereas uc.283 + A was up-regulated following treatment with combined 5-Aza 2′deoxycytidine and trichostatin A (P < 0.05). Additional computational analyses predicted RNA loop-loop interactions of 302 different sense and antisense ucRNAs with 1058 different mRNAs, inferring possible functions of ucRNAs via direct interactions with mRNAs.
This first study of ucRNA expression in human prostate cancer indicates an altered transcript expression in the disease.
PMCID: PMC3626580  PMID: 23409773
Ultraconserved region; Gene expression; Prostate cancer
13.  The tumorigenic FGFR3-TACC3 gene fusion escapes miR-99a regulation in glioblastoma  
Fusion genes are chromosomal aberrations that are found in many cancers and can be used as prognostic markers and drug targets in clinical practice. Fusions can lead to production of oncogenic fusion proteins or to enhanced expression of oncogenes. Several recent studies have reported that some fusion genes can escape microRNA regulation via 3′–untranslated region (3′-UTR) deletion. We performed whole transcriptome sequencing to identify fusion genes in glioma and discovered FGFR3-TACC3 fusions in 4 of 48 glioblastoma samples from patients both of mixed European and of Asian descent, but not in any of 43 low-grade glioma samples tested. The fusion, caused by tandem duplication on 4p16.3, led to the loss of the 3′-UTR of FGFR3, blocking gene regulation of miR-99a and enhancing expression of the fusion gene. The fusion gene was mutually exclusive with EGFR, PDGFR, or MET amplification. Using cultured glioblastoma cells and a mouse xenograft model, we found that fusion protein expression promoted cell proliferation and tumor progression, while WT FGFR3 protein was not tumorigenic, even under forced overexpression. These results demonstrated that the FGFR3-TACC3 gene fusion is expressed in human cancer and generates an oncogenic protein that promotes tumorigenesis in glioblastoma.
PMCID: PMC3561838  PMID: 23298836
14.  Functional Analysis of microRNAs in Human Hepatocellular Cancer Stem Cells 
MicroRNAs are endogenous small noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expression and cancer development. A rare population of hepatocellular cancer stem cells (HSCs) holds the extensive proliferative and self-renewal potential necessary to form a liver tumor. We postulated that specific transcriptional factors might regulate the expression of microRNAs and subsequently modulate the expression of gene products involved in phenotypic characteristics of HSCs. We evaluated the expression of microRNA in human HSCs by microarray profiling, and defined the target genes and functional effects of two groups of microRNA regulated by IL-6 and transcriptional factor Twist. A subset of highly chemoresistant and invasive HSCs was screened with aberrant expressions of cytokine IL-6 and Twist. We demonstrated that conserved let-7 and miR-181 family members were up-regulated in HSCs by global microarray-based microRNA profiling followed by validation with real-time PCR. Importantly, inhibition of let-7 increases the chemosensitivity of HSCs to sorafenib and doxorubicin whereas silencing of miR-181 led to a reduction in HSCs motility and invasion. Knocking down IL-6 and Twist in HSCs significantly reduced let-7 and miR-181 expression and subsequently inhibited chemoresistance and cell invasion. We showed that let-7 directly targets SOCS-1 and caspase-3, while miR-181 directly targets RASSF1A, TIMP3 as well as nemo-like kinase (NLK). In conclusion, alterations of IL-6 and Twist regulated microRNA expression in HSCs play a part in tumor spreading and responsiveness to chemotherapy. Our results define a novel regulatory mechanism of let-7/miR-181s suggesting that let-7 and miR-181 may be molecular targets for eradication of hepatocellular malignancies.
PMCID: PMC3116063  PMID: 21352471
microRNAs (miRNAs); Human Hepatocellular Cancer Stem Cells (HSCs); Interleukin-6 (IL-6); Twist; Chemotherapy; Invasion
15.  FOXP3 Orchestrates H4K16 Acetylation and H3K4 Tri-Methylation for Activation of Multiple Genes through Recruiting MOF and Causing Displacement of PLU-1 
Molecular cell  2011;44(5):770-784.
Both H4K16 acetylation and H3K4 tri-methylation are required for gene activation. However, it is still largely unclear how these modifications are orchestrated by transcriptional factors. Here we analyzed the mechanism of the transcriptional activation by FOXP3, an X-linked suppressor of autoimmune diseases and cancers. FOXP3 binds near transcriptional start sites of its target genes. By recruiting MOF and displacing histone H3K4 demethylase PLU-1, FOXP3 increases both H4K16 acetylation and H3K4 tri-methylation at the FOXP3-associated chromatins of multiple FOXP3-activated genes. RNAi-mediated silencing of MOF reduced both gene activation and tumor suppression by FOXP3, while both somatic mutations in clinical cancer samples and targeted mutation of FOXP3 in mouse prostate epithelial disrupted nuclear localization of MOF. Our data demonstrate a pull-push model in which a single transcription factor orchestrates two epigenetic alterations necessary for gene activation and provide a mechanism for somatic inactivation of the FOXP3 protein function in cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC3243051  PMID: 22152480
16.  Microbiotadown regulates dendritic cell expression of miR-10a which targets IL-12/IL-23p40 
Commensal flora plays important roles in the regulation of the gene expression involved in many intestinal functions and the maintenance of immune homeostasis, as well as in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). The microRNAs (miRNAs), a class of small, non-coding RNAs, act as key regulators in many biological processes. The miRNAs are highly conserved among species and appear to play important roles in both innate and adaptive immunity, as they can control the differentiation of various immune cells as well as their functions. However, it is still largely unknown how microbiota regulates miRNA expression, thereby contributing to intestinal homeostasis and pathogenesis of IBD. In our current study, we found that microbiota negatively regulated intestinal miR-10a expression, in that the intestines, as well as intestinal epithelial cells and dendritic cells of specific pathogen-free (SPF) mice, expressed much lower levels of miR-10a compared to those in germ-free (GF) mice. Commensal bacteria downregulated DC miR-10a expression via TLR-TLR ligand interactions through a MyD88-dependent pathway. We identified IL-12/IL-23p40, a key molecule for innate immune responses to commensal bacteria, as a target of miR-10a. The ectopic expression of miR-10a precursor inhibited, whereas miR-10a inhibitor promoted, the expression of IL-12/IL-23p40 in DC. Mice with colitis expressing higher levels of IL-12/IL-23p40 exhibit lower levels of intestinal miR-10a compared to that in the control mice. Collectively, our data demonstrated that microbiota negatively regulates host miR-10a expression, which may contribute to the maintenance of intestinal homeostasis by targeting IL-12/IL-23p40 expression.
PMCID: PMC3226774  PMID: 22068236
17.  Expression profiling of microRNA using oligo DNA arrays 
Methods (San Diego, Calif.)  2008;44(1):22-30.
After 12 years from its first application, microarray technology has become the reference technique to monitor gene expression of thousands of genes in the same experiment. In the past few years an increasing amount of evidence showed the importance of non coding RNA (ncRNA) in different human diseases. The microRNAs (miRNAs) are one of the groups of ncRNA. They are small RNA fragments, 19–25 nucleotides long, with a main regulatory function on both protein coding genes and non-coding RNAs. The application of microarray platforms applied to miRNA profiling determined their deregulation in virtually all human diseases that have been studied. We previously developed a custom miRNA microarray platform, and here we describe the protocol we used to work with it including the oligo design strategy, the microaray printing protocol, the target-probe hybridization and the signal detection.
PMCID: PMC3321558  PMID: 18158129
18.  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.
PMCID: PMC3092351  PMID: 21518799
19.  Targeting Activation Induced Cytidine Deaminase Overcome Tumor Evasion of Immunotherapy by Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes 
Activation induced cytidine deaminase (AID) is an enzyme essential for the generation of antibody diversity in B cells and is considered to be a general gene mutator. In addition, AID expression was also implicated in the pathogenesis of human B cell malignancies and associated with poor prognosis. Here we report that siRNA silencing of AID in plasmacytoma dramatically increased its susceptibility to immunotherapy by cytotoxic T lymphocytes. AID silencing did not decrease the mutation frequencies of tumor antigen gene P1A. Gene-array analysis showed dramatically altered expression of a number of genes in AID-silenced plasmacytoma cells and upregulation of CD200 was shown to be in favor of tumor eradication by CTL. Taken together, we demonstrate a novel function of AID in tumor evasion of CTL therapy and that targeting AID should be beneficial in the immunotherapy of AID positive tumors.
PMCID: PMC2874093  PMID: 20404277
Activation induced cytidine deaminase; Plasmacytoma; Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes; Immune evasion
20.  MicroRNA Profiles of Drug-Resistant Myeloma Cell Lines 
Acta Haematologica  2010;123(4):201-204.
PMCID: PMC2881892  PMID: 20357429
21.  A LIF/Nanog axis is revealed in T lymphocytes that lack MARCH-7, a RINGv E3 ligase that regulates the LIF-receptor 
Cell Cycle  2010;9(20):4213-4221.
Nanog is a stem cell transcription factor required for self-renewal and for maintaining pluripotency, and Nanog itself is regulated at least in part by leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF)—a pluripotent cytokine of the IL6 family. MARCH-7 is an E-3 ligase linked to regulation of the LIF-receptor in T lymphocytes and T cells from mice that lack expression of MARCH-7 are hyper-responsive to activation signals and show a five-fold increase in LIF activity. Here we ask, does MARCH-7 influence the expression profile of Nanog during the synchronized entry of T cells into the cell cycle? We discovered that lack of MARCH-7 was permissive for Nanog expression at both transcript and protein levels during G1/S: moreover, addition of exogenous LIF to the MARCH-7 null cells caused a further 13-fold induction of Nanog; other measured transcripts including TGFβ, p53 and STAT3 were relatively unchanged. Since lack of MARCH-7 altered responsiveness to activation signals we sought evidence for pre-existing regulatory miR's that might correlate with MARCH-7 gene dose using head-to-head comparisons between MARCH-7 null, heterozygous and wt spleen cells. Thirty-four miRs were found including miR-346 that is known to target LIF transcripts and miR-346 is one of 16 miRs differentially expressed between hESCs and induced hiPSCs. Of the 34 miRs, 12 were known to be temporally regulated in embryonic nerve cells. In summary, in the absence of MARCH-7 a new signaling pathway is unmasked that involves Nanog expression in the T-cell lineage. This is the first demonstration that T cells retain responsiveness to a LIF/Nanog axis and that this axis is linked to MARCH-7.
PMCID: PMC3055204  PMID: 20962578
nanog; MARCH-7; E3-ligase; T lymphocytes; LIF
22.  Disrupted microRNA expression caused by Mecp2 loss in a mouse model of Rett syndrome 
Epigenetics  2010;5(7):656-663.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNA molecules that regulate post-transcriptional gene expression. They influence a wide range of physiological functions, including neuronal processes, and are regulated by various mechanisms, such as DNA methylation. This epigenetic mark is recognized by transcriptional regulators such as the methyl CpG binding protein Mecp2. Rett syndrome is a complex neurological disorder that has been associated with mutations in the gene coding for Mecp2. Thus, we examined the possible miRNA misregulation caused by Mecp2 absence in a mouse model of Rett syndrome. Using miRNA expression microarrays, we observed that the brain of Rett syndrome mice undergoes a disruption of the expression profiles of miRNAs. Among the significantly altered miRNAs (26%, 65 of 245), overall downregulation of these transcripts was the most common feature (71%), while the remaining 30% were upregulated. Further validation by quantitative RT-PCR demonstrated that the most commonly disrupted miRNAs were miR-146a, miR-146b, miR-130, miR-122a, miR-342 and miR-409 (downregulated) and miR-29b, miR329, miR-199b, miR-382, miR-296, miR-221 and miR-92 (upregulated). Most importantly, transfection of miR-146a in a neuroblastoma cell line caused the downregulation of IL-1 receptor-associated kinase 1 (Irak1) levels, suggesting that the identified defect of miR-146a in Rett syndrome mice brains might be responsible for the observed upregulation of Irak1 in this model of the human disease. Overall, we provide another level of molecular deregulation occurring in Rett syndrome that might be useful for understanding the disease and for designing targeted therapies.
PMCID: PMC3052849  PMID: 20716963
Rett syndrome; Mecp2; microRNAs; DNA methylation; chromatin
23.  MiRNA expression in squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma of the esophagus and associations with survival 
The dismal outcome of esophageal cancer patients highlights the need for novel prognostic biomarkers, such as microRNAs (miRNAs). While recent studies have established the role of miRNAs in esophageal carcinoma, a comprehensive multi-center study investigating different histological types, including squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and adenocarinoma (ADC) with or without Barrett's, is still lacking.
Experimental Design
MiRNA expression was measured in cancerous and adjacent non-cancerous tissue pairs collected from 100 ADC and 70 SCC patients enrolled at 4 clinical centers from the US, Canada, and Japan. Microarray-based expression was measured in a subset of samples in two cohorts and was validated in all available samples.
In ADC patients, miR-21, miR-223, miR-192, and miR-194 expression was elevated, while miR-203 expression was reduced in cancerous compared to non-cancerous tissue. In SCC patients, we found elevated miR-21 and reduced mir-375 expression levels in cancerous compared to non-cancerous tissue. When comparing cancerous tissue expression between ADC and SCC patients, mir-194 and mir-375 were elevated in ADC patients. Significantly, elevated mir-21 expression in non-cancerous tissue of SCC patients and reduced levels of mir-375 in cancerous tissue of ADC patients with Barrett's were strongly associated with worse prognosis. Associations with prognosis were independent of tumor stage or nodal status, cohort type, and chemoradiation therapy.
Our multi-center-based results highlight miRNAs involved in major histological types of esophageal carcinoma and uncover significant associations with prognosis. Elucidating miRNAs relevant to esophageal carcinogenesis is potentially clinically useful for developing prognostic biomarkers and identifying novel drug targets and therapies.
PMCID: PMC2933109  PMID: 19789312
microRNA; esophageal cancer; prognosis; Barrett's; expression profiling
24.  Regulation of autophagy by a beclin 1-targeted microRNA, miR-30a, in cancer cells 
Autophagy  2009;5(6):816-823.
beclin 1, the mammalian homologue of the yeast Atg6, is a key autophagy-promoting gene that plays a critical role in the regulation of cell death and survival of various types of cells. However, recent studies have observed that the expression of beclin 1 is altered in certain diseases including cancers. The causes underlying the aberrant expression of beclin 1 remain largely unknown. We report here that microRNAs (miRNAs), a class of endogenous, 22–24 nucleotide noncoding RNA molecules able to affect stability and translation of mRNA, may represent a previously unrecognized mechanism for regulating beclin 1 expression and autophagy. We demonstrated that beclin 1 is a potential target for miRNA miR-30a, and this miRNA could negatively regulate beclin 1 expression resulting in decreased autophagic activity. Treatment of tumor cells with the miR-30a mimic decreased, and with the antagomir increased, the expression of beclin 1 mRNA and protein. Dual luciferase reporter assay confirmed that the miR-30a binding sequences in the 3′-UTR of beclin 1 contribute to the modulation of beclin 1 expression by miR-30a. Furthermore, inhibition of beclin 1 expression by the miR-30a mimic blunted activation of autophagy induced by rapamycin. Our study of the role of miR-30a in regulating beclin 1 expression and autophagy reveals a novel function for miRNA in a critical cellular event with significant impacts in cancer development, progression and treatment, and in other diseases.
PMCID: PMC3669137  PMID: 19535919
beclin 1; autophagy; microRNA; miR-30a; gene expression
25.  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.
PMCID: PMC2995059  PMID: 20639536

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