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Molecular Biology - Oncology - Surgery


MicroRNAs Targeting Oncogenes Are Down-Regulated in Pancreatic Malignant Transformation from Benign Tumors
Published: Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Author: Long R. Jiao et al.

by Long R. Jiao, Adam E. Frampton, Jimmy Jacob, Loredana Pellegrino, Jonathan Krell, Georgios Giamas, Nicole Tsim, Panagiotis Vlavianos, Patrizia Cohen, Raida Ahmad, Andreas Keller, Nagy A. Habib, Justin Stebbing, Leandro Castellano

Background

MicroRNA (miRNA) expression profiles have been described in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), but these have not been compared with pre-malignant pancreatic tumors. We wished to compare the miRNA expression signatures in pancreatic benign cystic tumors (BCT) of low and high malignant potential with PDAC, in order to identify miRNAs deregulated during PDAC development. The mechanistic consequences of miRNA dysregulation were further evaluated.

Methods

Tissue samples were obtained at a tertiary pancreatic unit from individuals with BCT and PDAC. MiRNA profiling was performed using a custom microarray and results were validated using RT-qPCR prior to evaluation of miRNA targets.

Results

Widespread miRNA down-regulation was observed in PDAC compared to low malignant potential BCT. We show that amongst those miRNAs down-regulated, miR-16, miR-126 and let-7d regulate known PDAC oncogenes (targeting BCL2, CRK and KRAS respectively). Notably, miR-126 also directly targets the KRAS transcript at a “seedless” binding site within its 3'UTR. In clinical specimens, miR-126 was strongly down-regulated in PDAC tissues, with an associated elevation in KRAS and CRK proteins. Furthermore, miR-21, a known oncogenic miRNA in pancreatic and other cancers, was not elevated in PDAC compared to serous microcystic adenoma (SMCA), but in both groups it was up-regulated compared to normal pancreas, implicating early up-regulation during malignant change.

Conclusions

Expression profiling revealed 21 miRNAs down-regulated in PDAC compared to SMCA, the most benign lesion that rarely progresses to invasive carcinoma. It appears that miR-21 up-regulation is an early event in the transformation from normal pancreatic tissue. MiRNA expression has the potential to distinguish PDAC from normal pancreas and BCT. Mechanistically the down-regulation of miR-16, miR-126 and let-7d promotes PDAC transformation by post-transcriptional up-regulation of crucial PDAC oncogenes. We show that miR-126 is able to directly target KRAS; re-expression has the potential as a therapeutic strategy against PDAC and other KRAS-driven cancers.

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