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Blood Cells Mol Dis. 2010 Mar 15;44(3):191-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bcmd.2009.12.010. Epub 2010 Jan 27.

MicroRNAs expression signatures are associated with lineage and survival in acute leukemias.

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Department of Hematology, The First Affiliated Hospital Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, PR China.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small ( approximately 22 nucleotide) non-coding RNAs whose altered expression has been associated with various types of cancers, including leukemia. In the present study, we conducted a quantitative PCR (qPCR) analysis of expression of 23 human precursor miRNAs in bone marrow specimens of 85 Chinese primary leukemia patients, including 53 acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and 32 acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cases. We show that 16 miRNAs were differentially expressed between AMLs and ALLs. Of them, eight were previously reported (i.e., miR-23a, miR-27a/b, miR-128a, miR-128b, miR-221, miR-222, miR-223, and let-7b) and eight were newly identified (i.e., miR-17, miR-20a, miR-29a/c, miR-29b, miR-146a, miR-150, miR-155, and miR-196b). More importantly, through correlating miRNA expression signatures with outcome of patients, we further show that expression signatures of a group of miRNAs are associated with overall survival of patients. Of them, three (i.e., miR-146a, miR-181a/c, and miR-221), five (i.e., miR-25, miR-26a, miR-29b, miR-146a, and miR-196b), and three (i.e., miR-26a, miR-29b, and miR-146a) miRNAs are significantly associated with overall survival (P<0.05) of the 32 ALL, 53 AML, and 40 non-M3 AML patients, respectively. Particularly, the expression signature of miR-146a is significantly inversely correlated with overall survival of both ALL and AML patients. The prognostic significance of miR-146a in AML has been confirmed further in an independent study of 61 Chinese new AML patient samples. We also identified 622 putative target genes of miR-146a that are predicted by at least three out of the five major prediction programs (i.e., TragetScan, PicTar, miRanda, miRBase Targets, and PITA). Through gene ontology analysis, we found that these genes were particularly enriched (2- to 9-fold higher than expected by chance) in the GO categories of "negative regulation of biology processes," "negative regulation of cellular processes," "apoptosis," and "cell cycle," which may be related to the association of miR-146a with poor survival.

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