[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A large fraction of our genome consists of mobile genetic elements. Governing transposons in germ cells is critically important, and failure to do so compromises genome integrity, leading to sterility. In animals, the piRNA pathway is the key to transposon constraint, yet the precise molecular details of how piRNAs are formed and how the pathway represses mobile elements remain poorly understood. In an effort to identify general requirements for transposon control and components of the piRNA pathway, we carried out a genome-wide RNAi screen in Drosophila ovarian somatic sheet cells. We identified and validated 87 genes necessary for transposon silencing. Among these were several piRNA biogenesis factors. We also found CG3893 (asterix) to be essential for transposon silencing, most likely by contributing to the effector step of transcriptional repression. Asterix loss leads to decreases in H3K9me3 marks on certain transposons but has no effect on piRNA levels.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: More accurate assessment of prognosis is important to further improve the choice of risk-related therapy in neuroblastoma (NB) patients. In this study, we aimed to establish and validate a prognostic miRNA signature for children with NB and tested it in both fresh frozen and archived formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) samples.
Four hundred-thirty human mature miRNAs were profiled in two patient subgroups with maximally divergent clinical courses. Univariate logistic regression analysis was used to select miRNAs correlating with NB patient survival. A 25-miRNA gene signature was built using 51 training samples, tested on 179 test samples, and validated on an independent set of 304 fresh frozen tumor samples and 75 archived FFPE samples.
The 25-miRNA signature significantly discriminates the test patients with respect to progression-free and overall survival (P < 0.0001), both in the overall population and in the cohort of high-risk patients. Multivariate analysis indicates that the miRNA signature is an independent predictor of patient survival after controlling for current risk factors. The results were confirmed in an external validation set. In contrast to a previously published mRNA classifier, the 25-miRNA signature was found to be predictive for patient survival in a set of 75 FFPE neuroblastoma samples.
In this study, we present the largest NB miRNA expression study so far, including more than 500 NB patients. We established and validated a robust miRNA classifier, able to identify a cohort of high-risk NB patients at greater risk for adverse outcome using both fresh frozen and archived material.
Clinical Cancer Research 12/2011; 17(24):7684-92. · 7.84 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: While a growing body of evidence implicates regulatory miRNA modules in various aspects of human disease and development, insights into specific miRNA function remain limited. Here, we present an innovative approach to elucidate tissue-specific miRNA functions that goes beyond miRNA target prediction and expression correlation. This approach is based on a multi-level integration of corresponding miRNA and mRNA gene expression levels, miRNA target prediction, transcription factor target prediction and mechanistic models of gene network regulation. Predicted miRNA functions were either validated experimentally or compared to published data. The predicted miRNA functions are accessible in the miRNA bodymap, an interactive online compendium and mining tool of high-dimensional newly generated and published miRNA expression profiles. The miRNA bodymap enables prioritization of candidate miRNAs based on their expression pattern or functional annotation across tissue or disease subgroup. The miRNA bodymap project provides users with a single one-stop data-mining solution and has great potential to become a community resource.
Nucleic Acids Research 08/2011; 39(20):e136. · 8.28 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Emerging evidence suggests that microRNAs (miRNAs), an abundant class of ∼22-nucleotide small regulatory RNAs, play key roles in controlling the post-transcriptional genetic programs in stem and progenitor cells. Here we systematically examined miRNA expression profiles in various adult tissue-specific stem cells and their differentiated counterparts. These analyses revealed miRNA programs that are common or unique to blood, muscle, and neural stem cell populations and miRNA signatures that mark the transitions from self-renewing and quiescent stem cells to proliferative and differentiating progenitor cells. Moreover, we identified a stem/progenitor transition miRNA (SPT-miRNA) signature that predicts the effects of genetic perturbations, such as loss of PTEN and the Rb family, AML1-ETO9a expression, and MLL-AF10 transformation, on self-renewal and proliferation potentials of mutant stem/progenitor cells. We showed that some of the SPT-miRNAs control the self-renewal of embryonic stem cells and the reconstitution potential of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). Finally, we demonstrated that SPT-miRNAs coordinately regulate genes that are known to play roles in controlling HSC self-renewal, such as Hoxb6 and Hoxa4. Together, these analyses reveal the miRNA programs that may control key processes in normal and aberrant stem and progenitor cells, setting the foundations for dissecting post-transcriptional regulatory networks in stem cells.
Genome Research 03/2011; 21(5):798-810. · 14.40 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are ∼22 nucleotide regulatory RNA molecules that play important roles in controlling developmental and physiological processes in animals and plants. Measuring the level of miRNA expression is a critical step in methods that study the regulation of biological functions and that use miRNA profiles as diagnostic markers for cancer and other diseases. Even though the quantitation of these small miRNA molecules by RT-qPCR is challenging because of their short length and sequence similarity, a number of quantitative RT-qPCR-based miRNA quantitation methods have been introduced since 2004. The most commonly used methods are stem-loop reverse transcription (RT)-based TaqMan(®) MicroRNA assays and arrays. The high sensitivity and specificity, large dynamic range, and simple work flow of TaqMan(®) MicroRNA assays and arrays have made TaqMan analysis the method of choice for miRNA expression profiling and follow-up validation. Other methods such as poly (A) tailing-based and direct RT-based SYBR miRNA assays are also discussed in this chapter.
Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) 01/2011; 687:113-34.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Asynchronous PCR (aPCR) is a new PCR method that directs an ordered and sequential amplification of the + and - strands of DNA amplicons. There are several unique characteristics of aPCR that generate new application opportunities. The melting temperature (Tm) of the forward and reverse aPCR primers differ by at least 15°C. The concentration of the lower Tm primer is reduced from 900 to 100 nM, thereby allowing for asynchronous or asymmetric strand-specific amplification. Furthermore, unique thermocycling parameter strategy dictates the + and - strand amplification cue. Each aPCR cycle includes two annealing and extension steps. Sequential annealing and extension of forward and reverse primers during each cycle produce transient single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) amplicons which help hybridization-based probes such as peptide nucleic acid (PNA) bind to the target sequences more effectively. This new method can be used in real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) for gene expression analyses as well as production of robust ssDNA targets for microarray and other hybridization-based applications.
Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) 01/2011; 687:231-43.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Combining RNAi in cultured cells and analysis of mutant animals, we probed the roles of known Piwi-interacting RNA (piRNA) pathway components in the initiation and effector phases of transposon silencing. Squash associated physically with Piwi, and reductions in its expression led to modest transposon derepression without effects on piRNAs, consistent with an effector role. Alterations in Zucchini or Armitage reduced both Piwi protein and piRNAs, indicating functions in the formation of a stable Piwi RISC (RNA-induced silencing complex). Notably, loss of Zucchini or mutations within its catalytic domain led to accumulation of unprocessed precursor transcripts from flamenco, consistent with a role for this putative nuclease in piRNA biogenesis.
Genes & development 10/2010; 24(22):2499-504. · 12.08 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Stem cells and microRNAs (miRNAs) represent two fast-developing frontiers of biological research. Stem cells function in embryonic development and tissue maintenance and are characterized by two fundamental properties: self-renewal and multipotency. Within many types of cancers, a small population of cells possesses stem cell-like characteristics. These cancer stem cells (CSCs) have been hypothesized to represent the disease-propagating and drug-resisting cell population. An increased understanding of the biology of stem cells and CSCs offers potential in the development of regenerative medicine and treatments for oncological disease. miRNAs are emerging as important regulators of post-transcriptional gene regulation, and have been demonstrated to be an integral component in stem cell regulation. This article reviews recent advances in the understanding of the roles of miRNAs in regulating various stem cell types, including embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells and CSCs.
Current opinion in molecular therapeutics 07/2009; 11(3):292-8. · 3.42 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: RNA interference (RNAi) is a mechanism in which the introduction of small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) into a diverse range of organisms and cell types causes degradation of the complementary mRNA. Applications of RNAi include gene function and pathway analysis, target identification and validation, and therapeutics. There is a need to develop reliable and easy-to-use assays to evaluate siRNA delivery efficiency and distribution, study pathways, and stability of siRNAs in cells (posttransfection) and in animals (postinjection). We have leveraged the Applied Biosystems TaqMan-based stem-loop RT-PCR technology, originally developed for quantification of endogenous microRNAs in cells, to fulfill these needs. The application protocols developed enable robust quantification of siRNA, including chemically modified siRNA molecules, in vitro and in vivo.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Both embryonic and adult stem cells promise a precious cell source for the treatment of various degenerative diseases due to their capacity for self-renewal and ability to differentiate along multiple cell lineages. A lack of understanding surrounding the basic biology of stem cells, the stemness, continues to challenge successful clinical application of these cells. Gene expression analysis, both genome-wide and targeted at specific gene subsets, has played a key role in improving our understanding of the genetic attributes of stem cells through identification of molecular signatures that characterize normal stem cell function. Such approaches have facilitated the investigation of stemness in a subset of tumor cells, so-called cancer stem cells, and have started to unravel their roles in initiation and progression of tumors. This review summarizes recent advances of gene expression analysis in stem cell research and also discusses critical issues that remain to be elucidated in the search for cancer stem cells markers.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are an emerging class of small non-coding RNAs implicated in a wide variety of cellular processes. Research in this field is accelerating, and the growing number of miRNAs emphasizes the need for high-throughput and sensitive detection methods. Here we present the successful evaluation of the Megaplex reverse transcription format of the stem-loop primer-based real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) approach to quantify miRNA expression. The Megaplex reaction provides simultaneous reverse transcription of 450 mature miRNAs, ensuring high-throughput detection. Further, the introduction of a complementary DNA pre-amplification step significantly reduces the amount of input RNA needed, even down to single-cell level. To evaluate possible pre-amplification bias, we compared the expression of 384 miRNAs in three different cancer cell lines with Megaplex RT, with or without an additional pre-amplification step. The normalized Cq values of all three sample pairs showed a good correlation with maintenance of differential miRNA expression between the cell lines. Moreover, pre-amplification using 10 ng of input RNA enabled the detection of miRNAs that were undetectable when using Megaplex alone with 400 ng of input RNA. The high specificity of RT-qPCR together with a superior sensitivity makes this approach the method of choice for high-throughput miRNA expression profiling.
Nucleic Acids Research 11/2008; 36(21):e143. · 8.28 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Duplications and deletions in the human genome can cause disease or predispose persons to disease. Advances in technologies to detect these changes allow for the routine identification of submicroscopic imbalances in large numbers of patients.
We tested for the presence of microdeletions and microduplications at a specific region of chromosome 1q21.1 in two groups of patients with unexplained mental retardation, autism, or congenital anomalies and in unaffected persons.
We identified 25 persons with a recurrent 1.35-Mb deletion within 1q21.1 from screening 5218 patients. The microdeletions had arisen de novo in eight patients, were inherited from a mildly affected parent in three patients, were inherited from an apparently unaffected parent in six patients, and were of unknown inheritance in eight patients. The deletion was absent in a series of 4737 control persons (P=1.1x10(-7)). We found considerable variability in the level of phenotypic expression of the microdeletion; phenotypes included mild-to-moderate mental retardation, microcephaly, cardiac abnormalities, and cataracts. The reciprocal duplication was enriched in nine children with mental retardation or autism spectrum disorder and other variable features (P=0.02). We identified three deletions and three duplications of the 1q21.1 region in an independent sample of 788 patients with mental retardation and congenital anomalies.
We have identified recurrent molecular lesions that elude syndromic classification and whose disease manifestations must be considered in a broader context of development as opposed to being assigned to a specific disease. Clinical diagnosis in patients with these lesions may be most readily achieved on the basis of genotype rather than phenotype.
New England Journal of Medicine 10/2008; 359(16):1685-99. · 51.66 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The unique properties of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) to self-renew indefinitely or to differentiate to any cell type have great potential for clinical applications in regenerative medicine. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are emerging as important regulators of post-transcriptional gene expression and have been implicated as crucial elements in regulating ESCs. Here, we review recent progresses in characterizing the role of miRNAs in the maintenance and development of ESCs.
Journal of Cellular Physiology 10/2008; 218(2):251-5. · 4.22 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report a recurrent microdeletion syndrome causing mental retardation, epilepsy and variable facial and digital dysmorphisms. We describe nine affected individuals, including six probands: two with de novo deletions, two who inherited the deletion from an affected parent and two with unknown inheritance. The proximal breakpoint of the largest deletion is contiguous with breakpoint 3 (BP3) of the Prader-Willi and Angelman syndrome region, extending 3.95 Mb distally to BP5. A smaller 1.5-Mb deletion has a proximal breakpoint within the larger deletion (BP4) and shares the same distal BP5. This recurrent 1.5-Mb deletion contains six genes, including a candidate gene for epilepsy (CHRNA7) that is probably responsible for the observed seizure phenotype. The BP4-BP5 region undergoes frequent inversion, suggesting a possible link between this inversion polymorphism and recurrent deletion. The frequency of these microdeletions in mental retardation cases is approximately 0.3% (6/2,082 tested), a prevalence comparable to that of Williams, Angelman and Prader-Willi syndromes.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Biomarkers have shown great potential in molecular classification and targeted treatment of human diseases. Biomarkers are
also expected to play an increasingly important role in all phases of drug development as well as regulatory decision making.
However, translating biomarker discovery into clinically useful tests in a time- and cost-effective manner remains a significant
challenge. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology, in particular TaqMan®-based real-time PCR gene expression assays, provides a simple, robust, and practical tool that has shown great potential
in bridging the gaps between biomarker discovery and clinical practice. In this chapter, we will survey the principle of this
technology and its wide applications in biomarker discovery and validation.
Key Wordsbiomarker–gene copy number–gene expression–microRNA–real-time PCR–TaqMan®
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A global decrease in microRNA (miRNA) levels is often observed in human cancers, indicating that small RNAs may have an intrinsic function in tumour suppression. To identify miRNA components of tumour suppressor pathways, we compared miRNA expression profiles of wild-type and p53-deficient cells. Here we describe a family of miRNAs, miR-34a-c, whose expression reflected p53 status. Genes encoding miRNAs in the miR-34 family are direct transcriptional targets of p53, whose induction by DNA damage and oncogenic stress depends on p53 both in vitro and in vivo. Ectopic expression of miR-34 induces cell cycle arrest in both primary and tumour-derived cell lines, which is consistent with the observed ability of miR-34 to downregulate a programme of genes promoting cell cycle progression. The p53 network suppresses tumour formation through the coordinated activation of multiple transcriptional targets, and miR-34 may act in concert with other effectors to inhibit inappropriate cell proliferation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Defining the identity of embryonic stem (ES) cells in quantitative molecular terms is a prerequisite to understanding their functional characteristics. Little is known about the role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in the regulation of ES cell identity. Statistical analysis of miRNA expression revealed unique expression signatures that could definitively classify mouse ES (mES), embryoid bodies (mEB), and somatic tissues. Analysis of these data sets also provides further confirmation of the nonrestrictive expression of miRNAs during murine development. Using combined genome-wide expression analyses of both miRNAs and mRNAs, we observed both negative and positive correlations in gene expression between miRNAs and their predicted targets. ES-specific miRNAs were positively correlated with their predicted targets, suggesting that mES-specific miRNAs may have a different role or mechanism in regulating their targets in mES maintenance or differentiation. The concept of cellular identity has changed with technology; this study redefines cellular identity by a generic statistical method of known dimension.
[show abstract][hide abstract] 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.
Cancer Research 04/2007; 67(6):2456-68. · 8.65 Impact Factor