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PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e23935. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023935. Epub 2011 Sep 9.

Integrated analysis of miRNA and mRNA expression in childhood medulloblastoma compared with neural stem cells.

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  • 1Brain Tumour Research Program, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health Research, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia.


Medulloblastoma (MB) is the most common malignant brain tumor in children and a leading cause of cancer-related mortality and morbidity. Several molecular sub-types of MB have been identified, suggesting they may arise from distinct cells of origin. Data from animal models indicate that some MB sub-types arise from multipotent cerebellar neural stem cells (NSCs). Hence, microRNA (miRNA) expression profiles of primary MB samples were compared to CD133+ NSCs, aiming to identify deregulated miRNAs involved in MB pathogenesis. Expression profiling of 662 miRNAs in primary MB specimens, MB cell lines, and human CD133+ NSCs and CD133- neural progenitor cells was performed by qRT-PCR. Clustering analysis identified two distinct sub-types of MB primary specimens, reminiscent of sub-types obtained from their mRNA profiles. 21 significantly up-regulated and 12 significantly down-regulated miRNAs were identified in MB primary specimens relative to CD133+ NSCs (p<0.01). The majority of up-regulated miRNAs mapped to chromosomal regions 14q32 and 17q. Integration of the predicted targets of deregulated miRNAs with mRNA expression data from the same specimens revealed enrichment of pathways regulating neuronal migration, nervous system development and cell proliferation. Transient over-expression of a down-regulated miRNA, miR-935, resulted in significant down-regulation of three of the seven predicted miR-935 target genes at the mRNA level in a MB cell line, confirming the validity of this approach. This study represents the first integrated analysis of MB miRNA and mRNA expression profiles and is the first to compare MB miRNA expression profiles to those of CD133+ NSCs. We identified several differentially expressed miRNAs that potentially target networks of genes and signaling pathways that may be involved in the transformation of normal NSCs to brain tumor stem cells. Based on this integrative approach, our data provide an important platform for future investigations aimed at characterizing the role of specific miRNAs in MB pathogenesis.

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