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Cancer Res. 2007 Feb 1;67(3):976-83.

Differential patterns of microRNA expression in neuroblastoma are correlated with prognosis, differentiation, and apoptosis.

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  • 1Children's Cancer Research Institute and Department of Pediatrics, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 8403 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio, TX 78229, USA.

Abstract

Neuroblastoma accounts for 15% of pediatric cancer deaths, and although a few protein-coding genes, such as MYCN, are involved with aggressive pathogenicity, the identification of novel biological targets for therapeutic intervention is still a necessary prerequisite for improving patient survival. Expression profiling of 157 microRNA (miRNA) loci in 35 primary neuroblastoma tumors indicates that 32 loci are differentially expressed in favorable and unfavorable tumor subtypes, indicating a potential role of miRNAs in neuroblastoma pathogenesis. Many of these loci are significantly underexpressed in tumors with MYCN amplification, which have particularly poor prognoses. Interestingly, we found that miRNA expression levels substantially change in a MYCN-amplified cell line following exposure to retinoic acid, a compound which is well known for causing reductions in MYCN expression and for inducing neuroblastoma cell lines to undergo neuronal differentiation. We also show that small interfering RNA inhibition of MYCN by itself causes similar alterations in the expression of miRNA loci. In vitro functional studies of one locus, miR-184, indicate that it plays a significant role in apoptosis. The association of experimentally induced alterations of miRNA expression in neuroblastoma cell lines with differentiation or apoptosis leads us to conclude that these loci play important roles in neuroblastoma pathogenesis. We further suggest that MYCN may mediate a tumorigenic effect, in part, through directly or indirectly regulating the expression of miRNAs that are involved with neural cell differentiation and/or apoptosis, warranting substantial further studies of miRNAs as potential therapeutic targets.

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