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PLoS One. 2018 Dec 31;13(12):e0209941. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0209941. eCollection 2018.

A genetically engineered microRNA-34a prodrug demonstrates anti-tumor activity in a canine model of osteosarcoma.

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Department of Surgical and Radiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California Davis, Davis, California, United States of America.
Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, Davis, California, United States of America.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California Davis, Sacramento, California, United States of America.


Osteosarcoma (OSA) represents the most common primary bone tumor in humans and pet dogs. Little progress has been made with regard to viable treatment options in the past three decades and patients presenting with metastatic disease continue to have a poor prognosis. Recent mouse studies have suggested that microRNA-34a (miR-34a) may have anti-tumor activities in human OSA models. Due to the conservation of microRNA across species, we hypothesized that a bioengineered miR-34a prodrug (tRNA/miR-34a) would have similar effects in canine OSA, providing a valuable preclinical model for development of this therapeutic modality. Using a panel of canine OSA cell lines, we found that tRNA/miR-34a reduced viability, clonogenic growth, and migration and invasion while increasing tumor cell apoptosis. Furthermore, canine OSA cells successfully process the tRNA/miR-34a into mature miR-34a which reduces expression of target proteins such as platelet derived growth factor receptor alpha (PDGFRα), Notch1 and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Additionally, our subcutaneous OSA xenograft model demonstrated in vivo tumor growth delay, increased necrosis and apoptosis by tRNA/miR-34a, and decreased cellular proliferation ability. Taken together, these data support that this novel microRNA-based therapy may possess clinical utility in a spontaneously-occurring large animal model of OSA, which can then serve to inform the clinical development of this therapy for human OSA patients.

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