Irena Ivanovska

Merck, Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, United States

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Publications (9)33.81 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a heterogeneous and highly aggressive malignancy, for which there are no effective cures. Identification of a malignant stemlike subtype of HCC may offer patients with a dismal prognosis a potential targeted therapy using c-MET and Wnt pathway inhibitors. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) show promise as diagnostic and prognostic tools for cancer detection and stratification. Using a TRE-c-Met-driven transgenic HCC mouse model, we identified a cluster of 23 miRNAs that is encoded within the Dlk1-Gtl2 imprinted region on chromosome 12qF1 overexpressed in all of the isolated liver tumors. Interestingly, this region is conserved among mammalian species and maps to the human DLK1-DIO3 region on chromosome 14q32.2. We thus examined the expression of the DLK1-DIO3 miRNA cluster in a cohort of 97 hepatitis B virus-associated HCC patients and identified a subgroup (n = 18) of patients showing strong coordinate overexpression of miRNAs in this cluster but not in other cancer types (breast, lung, kidney, stomach, and colon) that were tested. Expression levels of imprinted gene transcripts from neighboring loci in this 14q32.2 region and from a subset of other imprinted sites were concomitantly elevated in human HCC. Interestingly, overexpression of the DLK1-DIO3 miRNA cluster was positively correlated with HCC stem cell markers (CD133, CD90, EpCAM, Nestin) and associated with a high level of serum α-fetoprotein, a conventional biomarker for liver cancer, and poor survival rate in HCC patients. In conclusion, our findings suggest that coordinate up-regulation of the DLK1-DIO3 miRNA cluster at 14q32.2 may define a novel molecular (stem cell-like) subtype of HCC associated with poor prognosis.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 07/2011; 286(35):30706-13. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) genes predictive of survival have been found in both adjacent normal (AN) and tumor (TU) tissues. The relationships between these two sets of predictive genes and the general process of tumorigenesis and disease progression remains unclear. Here we have investigated HCC tumorigenesis by comparing gene expression, DNA copy number variation and survival using ∼250 AN and TU samples representing, respectively, the pre-cancer state, and the result of tumorigenesis. Genes that participate in tumorigenesis were defined using a gene-gene correlation meta-analysis procedure that compared AN versus TU tissues. Genes predictive of survival in AN (AN-survival genes) were found to be enriched in the differential gene-gene correlation gene set indicating that they directly participate in the process of tumorigenesis. Additionally the AN-survival genes were mostly not predictive after tumorigenesis in TU tissue and this transition was associated with and could largely be explained by the effect of somatic DNA copy number variation (sCNV) in cis and in trans. The data was consistent with the variance of AN-survival genes being rate-limiting steps in tumorigenesis and this was confirmed using a treatment that promotes HCC tumorigenesis that selectively altered AN-survival genes and genes differentially correlated between AN and TU. This suggests that the process of tumor evolution involves rate-limiting steps related to the background from which the tumor evolved where these were frequently predictive of clinical outcome. Additionally treatments that alter the likelihood of tumorigenesis occurring may act by altering AN-survival genes, suggesting that the process can be manipulated. Further sCNV explains a substantial fraction of tumor specific expression and may therefore be a causal driver of tumor evolution in HCC and perhaps many solid tumor types.
    PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(7):e20090. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Biomarkers derived from gene expression profiling data may have a high false-positive rate and must be rigorously validated using independent clinical data sets, which are not always available. Although animal model systems could provide alternative data sets to formulate hypotheses and limit the number of signatures to be tested in clinical samples, the predictive power of such an approach is not yet proven. The present study aims to analyze the molecular signatures of liver cancer in a c-MET-transgenic mouse model and investigate its prognostic relevance to human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Tissue samples were obtained from tumor (TU), adjacent non-tumor (AN) and distant normal (DN) liver in Tet-operator regulated (TRE) human c-MET transgenic mice (n = 21) as well as from a Chinese cohort of 272 HBV- and 9 HCV-associated HCC patients. Whole genome microarray expression profiling was conducted in Affymetrix gene expression chips, and prognostic significances of gene expression signatures were evaluated across the two species. Our data revealed parallels between mouse and human liver tumors, including down-regulation of metabolic pathways and up-regulation of cell cycle processes. The mouse tumors were most similar to a subset of patient samples characterized by activation of the Wnt pathway, but distinctive in the p53 pathway signals. Of potential clinical utility, we identified a set of genes that were down regulated in both mouse tumors and human HCC having significant predictive power on overall and disease-free survival, which were highly enriched for metabolic functions. In conclusions, this study provides evidence that a disease model can serve as a possible platform for generating hypotheses to be tested in human tissues and highlights an efficient method for generating biomarker signatures before extensive clinical trials have been initiated.
    PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(9):e24582. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Studies of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) reveal that these cell lines can be derived from differing stages of embryonic development. We analyzed common changes in the expression of microRNAs (miRNAs) and mRNAs in 9 different human ESC (hESC) lines during early commitment and further examined the expression of key ESCenriched miRNAs in earlier developmental states in several species. We show that several previously defined hESC-enriched miRNA groups (the miR-302, -17, and -515 families, and the miR-371-373 cluster) and several other hESC-enriched miRNAs are down-regulated rapidly in response to differentiation. We further found that mRNAs up-regulated upon differentiation are enriched in potential target sites for these hESC-enriched miRNAs. Interestingly, we also observed that the expression of ESC-enriched miRNAs bearing identical seed sequences changed dynamically while the cells transitioned through early embryonic states. In human and monkey ESCs, as well as human-induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), the miR-371-373 cluster was consistently up-regulated, while the miR-302 family was mildly down-regulated when the cells were chemically treated to regress to an earlier developmental state. Similarly, miR-302b, but not mmu-miR-295, was expressed at higher levels in murine epiblast stem cells (mEpiSC) as compared with an earlier developmental state, mouse ESCs. These results raise the possibility that the relative expression of related miRNAs might serve as diagnostic indicators in defining the developmental state of embryonic cells and other stem cell lines, such as iPSCs. These data also raise the possibility that miRNAs bearing identical seed sequences could have specific functions during separable stages of early embryonic development.
    Stem cells and development 07/2010; 19(7):935-50. · 4.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: microRNAs (miRNAs) regulate numerous physiological processes such as cell division and differentiation in many tissue types including stem cells. To probe the role that miRNAs play in regulating processes relevant to embryonic stem cell biology, we used RNA interference to silence DICER and DROSHA, the two main miRNA processing enzymes. Consistent with a role for miRNAs in maintaining normal stem cell division and renewal, we found that perturbation of miRNA pathway function in human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) attenuates cell proliferation. Normal cell growth can be partially restored by introduction of the mature miRNAs miR-195 and miR-372. These miRNAs regulate two tumor suppressor genes, respectively: WEE1, which encodes a negative G2/M kinase modulator of the CycB/CDK complex and CDKN1A, which encodes p21, a CycE/CDK cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor that regulates the G1/S transition. We show that in wild-type hESCs, WEE 1 levels control the rate of hESC division, whereas p21 levels must be maintained at a low level for hESC division to proceed. These data support a model for hESC cell cycle control in which miRNAs regulate negative cell cycle modulators at two phases of the cell cycle to ensure proper replenishment of the stem cell population.
    Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.) 11/2009; 8(22):3729-41. · 5.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Type 2 diabetes results from severe insulin resistance coupled with a failure of b cells to compensate by secreting sufficient insulin. Multiple genetic loci are involved in the development of diabetes, although the effect of each gene on diabetes susceptibility is thought to be small. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are noncoding 19-22-nucleotide RNA molecules that potentially regulate the expression of thousands of genes. To understand the relationship between miRNA regulation and obesity-induced diabetes, we quantitatively profiled approximately 220 miRNAs in pancreatic islets, adipose tissue, and liver from diabetes-resistant (B6) and diabetes-susceptible (BTBR) mice. More than half of the miRNAs profiled were expressed in all three tissues, with many miRNAs in each tissue showing significant changes in response to genetic obesity. Furthermore, several miRNAs in each tissue were differentially responsive to obesity in B6 versus BTBR mice, suggesting that they may be involved in the pathogenesis of diabetes. In liver there were approximately 40 miRNAs that were downregulated in response to obesity in B6 but not BTBR mice, indicating that genetic differences between the mouse strains play a critical role in miRNA regulation. In order to elucidate the genetic architecture of hepatic miRNA expression, we measured the expression of miRNAs in genetically obese F2 mice. Approximately 10% of the miRNAs measured showed significant linkage (miR-eQTLs), identifying loci that control miRNA abundance. Understanding the influence that obesity and genetics exert on the regulation of miRNA expression will reveal the role miRNAs play in the context of obesity-induced type 2 diabetes.
    Mammalian Genome 10/2009; 20(8):476-85. · 2.42 Impact Factor
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    Cell Cycle, v.8, 3729-3741 (2009). 01/2009;
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    Irena Ivanovska, Michele A Cleary
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    ABSTRACT: MicroRNAs regulate gene networks and therefore are inherently complex. MicroRNAs themselves function in networks of other microRNAs, some of which are co-expressed from the same locus. To better understand the interplay among microRNAs that underlies their functions, we examined the potential of combinatorial effects of endogenously and exogenously co-expressed microRNAs. In this review, we first distill the similarities and differences between three microRNA families that function in cell division, miR-16, miR-34a and miR-106b, with emphasis on their exquisite phenotypic diversity. Given that the microRNAs affect cell cycle progression via distinct targets, we tested for phenotypic synergism among them. Furthermore, we investigate target regulation by individual and pooled microRNAs to gain insight into interactions among microRNAs co-expressed from the same chromosomal locus. The ability of microRNAs to modulate multiple genes within a molecular pathway engenders a novel way of thinking about targeting pathways: instead of a one-inhibitor-one-target model, multiple components in a pathway can be modulated by a microRNA resulting in a potent yet reversible inhibition of the pathway. To fully realize this potential, we need to understand how microRNAs function singly and in concert with each other.
    Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.) 11/2008; 7(20):3137-42. · 5.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: microRNAs in the miR-106b family are overexpressed in multiple tumor types and are correlated with the expression of genes that regulate the cell cycle. Consistent with these observations, miR-106b family gain of function promotes cell cycle progression, whereas loss of function reverses this phenotype. Microarray profiling uncovers multiple targets of the family, including the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21/CDKN1A. We show that p21 is a direct target of miR-106b and that its silencing plays a key role in miR-106b-induced cell cycle phenotypes. We also show that miR-106b overrides a doxorubicin-induced DNA damage checkpoint. Thus, miR-106b family members contribute to tumor cell proliferation in part by regulating cell cycle progression and by modulating checkpoint functions.
    Molecular and Cellular Biology 05/2008; 28(7):2167-74. · 5.04 Impact Factor