[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous, small non-coding RNAs that function in regulation of gene expression. Compelling evidences have demonstrated that miRNA expression is dysregulated in human cancer through various mechanisms, including amplification or deletion of miRNA genes, abnormal transcriptional control of miRNAs, dysregulated epigenetic changes and defects in the miRNA biogenesis machinery. MiRNAs may function as either oncogenes or tumor suppressors under certain conditions. The dysregulated miRNAs have been shown to affect the hallmarks of cancer, including sustaining proliferative signaling, evading growth suppressors, resisting cell death, activating invasion and metastasis, and inducing angiogenesis. An increasing number of studies have identified miRNAs as potential biomarkers for human cancer diagnosis, prognosis and therapeutic targets or tools, which needs further investigation and validation. In this review, we focus on how miRNAs regulate the development of human tumors by acting as tumor suppressors or oncogenes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glioblastoma is the most common primary brain tumor in adults; with a survival rate of 12 months from diagnosis. However, a small subgroup of patients, termed long-term survivors (LTS), has a survival rate longer then 12-14 months. There is thus increasing interest in the identification of molecular signatures predicting glioblastoma prognosis and in how to improve the therapeutic approach. Here, we report miR-340 as prognostic tumor-suppressor microRNA for glioblastoma. We analyzed microRNA expression in > 500 glioblastoma patients and found that although miR-340 is strongly down-regulated in glioblastoma overall, it is up-regulated in LTS patients compared to short-term survivors (STS). Indeed, miR-340 expression predicted better prognosis in glioblastoma patients. Coherently, overexpression of miR-340 in glioblastoma cells was found to produce a tumor-suppressive activity. We identified NRAS mRNA as a critical, direct target of miR-340: in fact, miR-340 negatively influenced multiple aspects of glioblastoma tumorigenesis by down-regulating NRAS and downstream AKT and ERK pathways. Thus, we demonstrate that expression of miR-340 in glioblastoma is responsible for a strong tumor-suppressive effect in LTS patients by down-regulating NRAS. miR-340 may thus represent a novel marker for glioblastoma diagnosis and prognosis, and may be developed into a tool to improve treatment of glioblastoma.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The identification of the molecular mechanisms involved in the establishment of the resistant phenotype represents a critical need for the development of new strategies to prevent or overcome cancer resistance to anti-neoplastic treatments.Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women, and resistance to chemotherapy negatively affects patient outcomes. Here, we investigated the potential role of miR-302b in the modulation of breast cancer cell resistance to cisplatin.miR-302b overexpression enhances sensitivity to cisplatin in breast cancer cell lines, reducing cell viability and proliferation in response to the treatment. We also identified E2F1, a master regulator of the G1/S transition, as a direct target gene of miR-302b. E2F1 transcriptionally activates ATM, the main cellular sensor of DNA damage. Through the negative regulation of E2F1, miR-302b indirectly affects ATM expression, abrogating cell-cycle progression upon cisplatin treatment. Moreover miR-302b, impairs the ability of breast cancer cells to repair damaged DNA, enhancing apoptosis activation following cisplatin treatment.These findings indicate that miR-302b plays a relevant role in breast cancer cell response to cisplatin through the modulation of the E2F1/ATM axis, representing a valid candidate as therapeutic tool to overcome chemotherapy resistance.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is the most common human leukemia occurring as indolent or aggressive form. CLL clinical features and genetic abnormalities are well documented, but molecular details are still under investigation. MicroRNAs are small non-coding RNAs involved in several cellular processes and expressed in a tissue-specific manner. MicroRNAs regulate gene expression, and their deregulation can alter expression levels of genes involved in development/progression of tumors. In CLL, microRNAs can function as oncogenes or tumor suppressors and can also serve as markers for CLL onset/progression. Here, we discuss the most recent findings about the role of microRNAs in CLL and how this knowledge can be used to identify new biomarkers and treatment approaches.
Preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Journal of Hematology & Oncology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: microRNAs (miRNAs) can act as oncosuppressors or oncogenes, induce chemoresistance or chemosensitivity, and are major posttranscriptional gene regulators. Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK), EGF receptor (EGFR), and V-Ki-ras2 Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (KRAS) are major drivers of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The aim of this study was to assess the miRNA profiles of NSCLCs driven by translocated ALK, mutant EGFR, or mutant KRAS to find driver-specific diagnostic and prognostic miRNA signatures. A total of 85 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples were considered: 67 primary NSCLCs and 18 matched normal lung tissues. Of the 67 primary NSCLCs, 17 were echinoderm microtubule-associated protein-like 4-ALK translocated (ALK(+)) lung cancers; the remaining 50 were not (ALK(-)). Of the 50 ALK(-) primary NSCLCs, 24 were EGFR and KRAS mutation-negative (i.e., WT; triple negative); 11 were mutant EGFR (EGFR(+)), and 15 were mutant KRAS (KRAS(+)). We developed a diagnostic classifier that shows how miR-1253, miR-504, and miR-26a-5p expression levels can classify NSCLCs as ALK-translocated, mutant EGFR, or mutant KRAS versus mutation-free. We also generated a prognostic classifier based on miR-769-5p and Let-7d-5p expression levels that can predict overall survival. This classifier showed better performance than the commonly used classifiers based on mutational status. Although it has several limitations, this study shows that miRNA signatures and classifiers have great potential as powerful, cost-effective next-generation tools to improve and complement current genetic tests. Further studies of these miRNAs can help define their roles in NSCLC biology and in identifying best-performing chemotherapy regimens.
No preview · Article · Nov 2015 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a small part of the heterogeneous tumor cell population possessing self-renewal and multilineage differentiation potential as well as a great ability to sustain tumorigenesis. The molecular pathways underlying CSC phenotype are not yet well characterized. MicroRNAs (miRs) are small noncoding RNAs that play a powerful role in biological processes. Early studies have linked miRs to the control of self-renewal and differentiation in normal and cancer stem cells. We aimed to study the functional role of miRs in human breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs), also named mammospheres. We found that miR-221 was upregulated in BCSCs compared to their differentiated counterpart. Similarly, mammospheres from T47D cells had an increased level of miR-221 compared to differentiated cells. Transfection of miR-221 in T47D cells increased the number of mammospheres and the expression of stem cell markers. Among miR-221's targets, we identified DNMT3b. Furthermore, in BCSCs we found that DNMT3b repressed the expression of various stemness genes, such as Nanog and Oct 3/4, acting on the methylation of their promoters, partially reverting the effect of miR-221 on stemness. We hypothesize that miR-221 contributes to breast cancer tumorigenicity by regulating stemness, at least in part through the control of DNMT3b expression.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MicroRNAs are small non-coding RNAs that typically inhibit the translation and stability of messenger RNAs, controlling genes involved in cellular processes such as inflammation, cell cycle regulation, stress response, differentiation, apoptosis, and migration. Not surprisingly, microRNAs are also aberrantly expressed in cancer and promote tumorigenesis by disrupting these vital cellular functions. In this review, we first broadly summarize the role of microRNAs in breast cancer and Estrogen Receptor alpha signaling. Then we focus on what is currently known about the role of microRNAs in anti-hormonal therapy or resistance to endocrine agents. Specifically, we will discuss key miRNAs involved in tamoxifen (miR-221/222, 181, 101, 519a, 301, 375, 342, 451, and the let-7 family), fulvestrant (miR-221/222, miR-200 family), and aromatase inhibitor (miR-128 and the let-7 family) resistance.
No preview · Article · Oct 2015 · Expert Review of Endocrinology & Metabolism
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The central role of the microRNA (miR) 15a/16-1 cluster in B-cell oncogenesis has been extensively demonstrated, with over two-thirds of B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia characterized by the deletion of the miR-15a/16-1 locus at 13q14. Despite the well-established understanding of the molecular mechanisms occurring during miR-15a/16-1 dysregulation, the oncogenic role of other miR-15/16 family members, such as the miR-15b/16-2 cluster (3q25), is still far from being elucidated. Whereas miR-15a is highly similar to miR-15b, miR-16-1 is identical to miR-16-2; thus, it could be speculated that both clusters control a similar set of target genes and may have overlapping functions. However, the biological role of miR-15b/16-2 is still controversial. We generated miR-15b/16-2 knockout mice to better understand the cluster's role in vivo. These mice developed B-cell malignancy by age 15-18 mo with a penetrance of 60%. At this stage, mice showed significantly enlarged spleens with abnormal B cell-derived white pulp enlargement. Flow cytometric analysis demonstrated an expanded CD19+ CD5+ population in the spleen of 40% knockout mice, a characteristic of the chronic lymphocytic leukemia-associated phenotype found in humans. Of note, miR-15b/16-2 modulates the CCND2 (Cyclin D2), CCND1 (Cyclin D1), and IGF1R (insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor) genes involved in proliferation and antiapoptotic pathways in mouse B cells. These results are the first, to our knowledge, to suggest an important role of miR-15b/16-2 loss in the pathogenesis of B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
No preview · Article · Aug 2015 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Quaking (QKI) is a tumor-suppressor gene encoding a conserved RNA-binding protein, whose expression is downregulated in several solid tumors. Here we report that QKI plays an important role in the immune response and suppression of leukemogenesis. We show that the expression of Qki is reduced in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-challenged macrophages, suggesting that Qki is a key regulator of LPS signaling pathway. Furthermore, LPS-induced downregulation of Qki expression is miR-155-dependent. Qki overexpression impairs LPS-induced phosphorylation of JNK and particularly p38 MAPKs, in addition to increasing the production of anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10. In contrast, Qki ablation decreases Fas expression and the rate of Caspase3/7 activity, while increasing the levels of IL-1α, IL-1β and IL-6, and p38 phosphorylation. Similarly, the p38 pathway is also a target of QKI activity in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)-derived MEC2 cells. Finally, B-CLL patients show lower levels of QKI expression compared with B cells from healthy donor, and Qki is similarily downregulated with the progression of leukemia in Eµ-miR-155 transgenic mice. Altogether, these data implicate QKI in the pathophysiology of inflammation and oncogenesis where miR-155 is involved.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We recently reported that miR-224 was significantly up-regulated in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) tissues, in particular in resected NSCLC metastasis. We further demonstrated that miR-224 functions as an oncogene in NSCLC by directly targeting TNFAIP1 and SMAD4. However, the biological functions of miR-224 in NSCLC are controversial and underlying mechanisms of miR-224 in the progression and metastasis of lung cancer remain to be further explored. Here we report that caspase3 (CASP3) and caspase7 (CASP7) are previously unidentified targets of miR-224 in NSCLC, and that miR-224 promotes lung cancer cells proliferation and migration in part by directly targeting CASP7 and down-regulating its expression. In addition, miR-224 attenuated TNF-α induced apoptosis by direct targeting of CASP3 resulting in reduction of cleaved PARP1 expression in lung cancer cells. Furthermore, the expression of miR-224 negatively correlates with the expression of CASP7 and CASP3 in tissue samples from patients with lung cancer. Finally, we found that activated NF-κB signaling is involved in the regulation of miR-224 expression in lung cancer. Our study provides new insight in understanding of oncogenic role of miR-224 in the lung cancer pathogenesis and suggests that NF-κB/miR-224/CASP3, 7 pathway could be a putative therapeutic target in lung cancer.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Despite advancements and improvements in surgical and medical treatments, the survival rate of lung cancer patients remains frustratingly poor. Local control for early-stage nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has dramatically improved over the last decades for both operable and inoperable patients. However, the molecular mechanisms of NSCLC invasion leading to regional and distant disease spread remain poorly understood. Here, we identify microRNA-224 (miR-224) to be significantly up-regulated in NSCLC tissues, particularly in resected NSCLC metastasis. Increased miR-224 expression promotes cell migration, invasion, and proliferation by directly targeting the tumor suppressors TNFα-induced protein 1 (TNFAIP1) and SMAD4. In concordance with in vitro studies, mouse xenograft studies validated that miR-224 functions as a potent oncogenic miRNA in NSCLC in vivo. Moreover, we found promoter hypomethylation and activated ERK signaling to be involved in the regulation of miR-224 expression in NSCLC. Up-regulated miR-224, thus, facilitates tumor progression by shifting the equilibrium of the partially antagonist functions of SMAD4 and TNFAIP1 toward enhanced invasion and growth in NSCLC. Our findings indicate that targeting miR-224 could be effective in the treatment of certain lung cancer patients.
Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nucleolin (NCL) is a nucleocytoplasmic protein involved in many biological processes, such as ribosomal assembly, rRNA processing, and mRNA stabilization. NCL also regulates the biogenesis of specific microRNAs (miRNAs) involved in tumor development and aggressiveness. Interestingly, NCL is expressed on the surface of actively proliferating cancer cells, but not on their normal counterparts. Therefore, NCL is an attractive target for antineoplastic treatments. Taking advantage of phage-display technology, we engineered a fully human single-chain fragment variable, named 4LB5. This immunoagent binds NCL on the cell surface, it is translocated into the cytoplasm of target cells, and it abrogates the biogenesis of NCL-dependent miRNAs. Binding of 4LB5 to NCL on the cell surface of a variety of breast cancer and hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines, but not to normal-like MCF-10a breast cells, dramatically reduces cancer cell viability and proliferation. Finally, in orthotopic breast cancer mouse models, 4LB5 administration results in a significant reduction of the tumor volume without evident side effects. In summary, here we describe, to our knowledge, the first anti-NCL single-chain fragment variable displaying antineoplastic activity against established solid tumors, which could represent the prototype of novel immune-based NCL-targeting drugs with clinical potential as diagnostic and therapeutic tools in a wide variety of human cancers.
No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences