Article

Characterization of microRNA expression levels and their biological correlates in human cancer cell lines

Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire, United States
Cancer Research (Impact Factor: 9.28). 04/2007; 67(6):2456-68. DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-06-2698
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT MicroRNAs are small noncoding RNAs that function by regulating target gene expression posttranscriptionally. They play a critical role in developmental and physiologic processes and are implicated in the pathogenesis of several human diseases including cancer. We examined the expression profiles of 241 human microRNAs in normal tissues and the NCI-60 panel of human tumor-derived cell lines. To quantify microRNA expression, we employed a highly sensitive technique that uses stem-loop primers for reverse transcription followed by real-time PCR. Most microRNAs were expressed at lower levels in tumor-derived cell lines compared with the corresponding normal tissue. Agglomerative hierarchical clustering analysis of microRNA expression revealed four groups among the NCI-60 cell lines consisting of hematologic, colon, central nervous system, and melanoma tumor-derived cell lines clustered in a manner that reflected their tissue of origin. We identified specific subsets of microRNAs that provide candidate molecular signatures characteristic of the tumor-derived cell lines belonging to these four clusters. We also identified specific microRNA expression patterns that correlated with the proliferation indices of the NCI-60 cell lines, and we developed evidence for the identification of specific microRNAs as candidate oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes in different tumor types. Our results provide evidence that microRNA expression patterns may mark specific biological characteristics of tumors and/or mediate biological activities important for the pathobiology of malignant tumors. These findings call attention to the potential of microRNAs to provide etiologic insights as well as to serve as both diagnostic markers and therapeutic targets for many different tumor types.

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