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Mutat Res. 2007 Jun 1;619(1-2):30-7. Epub 2007 Feb 4.

Induction of microRNAome deregulation in rat liver by long-term tamoxifen exposure.

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  • 1Division of Biochemical Toxicology, National Center for Toxicological Research, Jefferson, AR 72079, United States. <>


Micro RNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNA molecules that function as negative regulators of gene expression. They play a crucial role in the regulation of genes involved in the control of development, cell proliferation, apoptosis, and stress response. Although miRNA levels are substantially altered in tumors, their role in carcinogenesis, specifically at the early pre-cancerous stages, has not been established. Here we report that exposure of Fisher 344 rats to tamoxifen, a potent hepatocarcinogen in rats, for 24 weeks leads to substantial changes in the expression of miRNA genes in the liver. We noted a significant up-regulation of known oncogenic miRNAs, such as the 17-92 cluster, miR-106a, and miR-34. Furthermore, we confirmed the corresponding changes in the expression of proteins targeted by these miRNAs, which include important cell cycle regulators, chromatin modifiers, and expression regulators implicated in carcinogenesis. All these miRNA changes correspond to previously reported alterations in full-fledged tumors, including hepatocellular carcinomas. Thus, our findings indicate that miRNA changes occur prior to tumor formation and are not merely a consequence of a transformed state.

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