PloS One: De-regulated microRNAs in pediatric cancer stem cells target pathways involved in cell proliferation, cell cycle and development

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Abstract

Background: microRNAs (miRNAs) have been implicated in the control of many biological processes and their deregulation has been associated with many cancers. In recent years, the cancer stem cell (CSC) concept has been applied to many cancers including pediatric. We hypothesized that a common signature of deregulated miRNAs in the CSCs fraction may explain the disrupted signaling pathways in CSCs.

Methodology/Results: Using a high throughput qPCR approach we identified 26 CSC-associated differentially expressed miRNAs (DEmiRs). Using the BCmicrO algorithm 865 potential CSC associated DEmiR targets were obtained. These potential targets were subjected to KEGG, Biocarta, and Gene Ontology pathway and biological processes analysis. Four annotated pathways were enriched: cell cycle, cell proliferation, p53, and TGF-beta/BMP. Knocking down hsa-miR-21-5p, hsa-miR-181c-5p and hsa-miR-135b-5p using antisense oligonucleotides and small interfering RNA in cell lines led to the depletion of the CSC fraction and impairment of sphere formation (CSC surrogate assays).

Conclusion: Our findings indicated that CSC associated DEmiRs and the putative pathways they regulate may have potential therapeutic applications in pediatric cancers.

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