JOURNAL ARTICLE

MiR-34a expression has an effect for lower risk of metastasis and associates with expression patterns predicting clinical outcome in breast cancer

Hanna Peurala, Dario Greco, Tuomas Heikkinen, Sippy Kaur, Jirina Bartkova, Maral Jamshidi, Kristiina Aittomäki, Päivi Heikkilä, Jiri Bartek, Carl Blomqvist, Ralf Bützow, Heli Nevanlinna
PloS One 2011, 6 (11): e26122
22102859
MiR-34a acts as a candidate tumour suppressor gene, and its expression is reduced in several cancer types. We aimed to study miR-34a expression in breast cancer and its correlation with tumour characteristics and clinical outcome, and regulatory links with other genes. We analysed miR-34a expression in 1,172 breast tumours on TMAs. 25% of the tumours showed high, 43% medium and 32% low expression of miR-34a. High miR-34a expression associated with poor prognostic factors for breast cancer: positive nodal status (p = 0.006), high tumour grade (p<0.0001), ER-negativity (p = 0.0002), HER2-positivity (p = 0.0002), high proliferation rate (p<0.0001), p53-positivity (p<0.0001), high cyclin E (p<0.0001) and γH2AX (p<0.0001). However, multivariate analysis adjusting for conventional prognostic factors indicated that high miR-34a expression in fact associated with a lower risk of recurrence or death from breast cancer (HR = 0.63, 95% CI = 0.41-0.96, p = 0.031). Gene expression analysis by differential miR-34a expression revealed an expression signature with an effect on both the 5-year and 10-year survival of the patients (p<0.001). Functional genomic analysis highlighted a novel regulatory role of the transcription factor MAZ, apart from the known control by p53, on the expression of miR-34a and a number of miR-34a targets. Our findings suggest that while miR-34a expression activation is a marker of aggressive breast tumour phenotype it exerts an independent effect for a lower risk of recurrence or death from breast cancer. We also present an expression signature of 190 genes associated with miR-34a expression. Our analysis for regulatory loops suggest that MAZ and p53 transcription factors co-operate in modulating miR-34a, as well as miR-34a targets involved in several cellular pathways. Taken together, these results suggest that the network of genes co-regulated with and targeted by miR-34a form a group of down-stream effectors that maybe of use in predicting clinical outcome, and that highlight novel regulatory mechanisms in breast cancer.

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