MicroRNA-5p and -3p co-expression and cross-targeting in colon cancer cells

Kong Bung Choo, Yuen Loon Soon, Phan Nguyen Nhi Nguyen, Michele Sook Yuin Hiew, Chiu-Jung Huang
Journal of Biomedical Science 2014 October 5, 21: 95

BACKGROUND: Two mature miRNA species may be generated from the 5' and 3' arms of a pre-miRNA precursor. In most cases, only one species remains while the complementary species is degraded. However, co-existence of miRNA-5p and -3p species is increasingly being reported. In this work, we aimed to systematically investigate co-expression of miRNA-5p/3p in colon cancer cells in a genome-wide analysis, and to examine cross-targeting of the dysregulated miRNAs and 5p/3p species.

RESULTS: Four colon cancer cell lines were examined relative to two normal colon tissues. Of the 1,190 miRNAs analyzed, 92 and 36 were found to be up- or down-regulated, respectively, in cancer cells. Nineteen co-expressed miRNA-5p/3p pairs were further identified suggesting frequent 5p/3p co-accumulation in colon cancer cells. Of these, 14 pairs were co-up-regulated and 3 pairs were co-down-regulated indicating concerted 5p/3p dysregulation. Nine dysregulated miRNA pairs fell into three miRNA gene families, namely let-7, mir-8/200 and mir-17, which showed frequent cross-targeting in the metastasis process. Focusing on the let-7d-5p/3p pair, the respectively targeted IGF1R and KRAS were shown to be in a reverse relationship with expression of the respective miRNA, which was confirmed in transient transfection assays using let-7d mimic or inhibitor. Targeting of KRAS by let-7d was previous reported; targeting of IGF1R by let-7d-5p was confirmed in luciferase assays in this study. The findings of let-7d-5p/3p and multiple other miRNAs targeting IGF1R, KRAS and other metastasis-related factors suggest that 5p/3p miRNAs contribute to cross-targeting of multiple cancer-associated factors and processes possibly to evade functional abolishment when any one of the crucial factors are inactivated.

CONCLUSIONS: miRNA-5p/3p species are frequently co-expressed and are coordinately regulated in colon cancer cells. In cancer cells, multiple cross-targeting by the miRNAs, including the co-existing 5p/3p species, frequently occurs in an apparent safe-proof scheme of miRNA regulation of important tumorigenesis processes. Further systematic analysis of co-existing miRNA-5p/3p pairs in clinical tissues is important in elucidating 5p/3p contributions to cancer pathogenesis.

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