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Cancer Inform. 2012;11:61-75. doi: 10.4137/CIN.S9037. Epub 2012 Mar 12.

Integrated Analysis Reveals hsa-miR-142 as a Representative of a Lymphocyte-Specific Gene Expression and Methylation Signature.

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  • 1Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, Department of Electrical Engineering, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA.


Gene expression profiling has provided insights into different cancer types and revealed tissue-specific expression signatures. Alterations in microRNA expression contribute to the pathogenesis of many types of human diseases. Few studies have integrated all levels of gene expression, miRNA and methylation to uncover correlations between these data types. We performed an integrated profiling to discover instances of miRNAs associated with a gene expression and DNA methylation signature across multiple cancer types. Using data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), we revealed a concordant gene expression and methylation signature associated with the microRNA hsa-miR-142 across the same samples. In all cancer types examined, we found a signature of co-expression of a gene set R and methylated sites M, which correlate positively (M+) or negatively (M-) with the expression of hsa-miR-142. The set R consistently contains many genes, such as TRAF3IP3, NCKAP1L, CD53, LAPTM5, PTPRC, EVI2B, DOCK2, LCP2, CYBB and FYB. The signature is preserved across glioblastoma, ovarian, breast, colon, kidney, lung, uterine and rectum cancer. There is 28% overlap of methylation sites in M between glioblastoma (GBM) and ovarian cancer. There is 60% overlap of genes in R between GBM and ovarian (P = 1.3e(-11)). Most of the genes in R are known to be expressed in lymphocytes and haematopoietic stem cells, while M reflects membrane proteins involved in cell-cell adhesion functions. We speculate that the hsa-miR-142 associated signature may signal haematopoietic-specific processes and an accumulation of methylation events triggering a progressive loss of cell-cell adhesion. We also observed that GBM samples belonging to the proneural subtype tend to have underexpressed hsa-miR-142 and R genes, hypomethylated M+ and hypermethylated M-, while the mesenchymal samples have the opposite profile.


cancer; correlation; gene expression; integrated analysis; methylation; microRNA

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