In clinical and basic research custom panels for transcript profiling are gaining importance because only project specific informative genes are interrogated. This approach reduces costs and complexity of data analysis and allows multiplexing of samples. Polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR) based TaqMan assays have high sensitivity but suffer from a limited dynamic range and sample throughput. Hence, there is a gap for a technology able to measure expression of large gene sets in multiple samples.
Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) have distinct gene expression patterns according to localization, genotype and aggressiveness. DNA methylation at CpG dinucleotides is an important mechanism for regulation of gene expression. We performed targeted DNA methylation analysis of 1.505 CpG loci in 807 cancer-related genes in a cohort of 76 GISTs, combined with genome-wide mRNA expression analysis in 22 GISTs, to identify signatures associated with clinicopathological parameters and prognosis. Principal component analysis revealed distinct DNA methylation patterns associated with anatomical localization, genotype, mitotic counts and clinical follow-up. Methylation of a single CpG dinucleotide in the non-CpG island promoter of SPP1 was significantly correlated with shorter disease-free survival. Hypomethylation of this CpG was an independent prognostic parameter in a multivariate analysis compared to anatomical localization, genotype, tumor size and mitotic counts in a cohort of 141 GISTs with clinical follow-up. The epigenetic regulation of SPP1 was confirmed in vitro, and the functional impact of SPP1 protein on tumorigenesis-related signaling pathways was demonstrated. In summary, SPP1 promoter methylation is a novel and independent prognostic parameter in GISTs, and might be helpful in estimating the aggressiveness of GISTs from the intermediate-risk category.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are 20-22 nucleotides long small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally. Last decade has witnessed emerging evidences of active roles of miRNAs in tumor development, progression, metastasis, and drug resistance. Many factors contribute to their dysregulation in cancer, such as chromosomal aberrations, differential methylation of their own or host genes' promoters and alterations in miRNA biogenesis pathways. miRNAs have been shown to act as tumor suppressors or oncogenes depending on the targets they regulate and the tissue where they are expressed. Because miRNAs can regulate dozens of genes simultaneously and they can function as tumor suppressors or oncogenes, they have been proposed as promising targets for cancer therapy. In this review, we focus on the role of miRNAs in driving drug resistance and metastasis which are associated with stem cell properties of cancer cells. Furthermore, we discuss systems biology approaches to combine experimental and computational methods to study effects of miRNAs on gene or protein networks regulating these processes. Finally, we describe methods to target oncogenic or replace tumor suppressor miRNAs and current delivery strategies to sensitize refractory cells and to prevent metastasis. A holistic understanding of miRNAs' functions in drug resistance and metastasis, which are major causes of cancer-related deaths, and the development of novel strategies to target them efficiently will pave the way towards better translation of miRNAs into clinics and management of cancer therapy.
Copper concentration can impact lactate metabolism in Chinese Hamster ovary (CHO) cells. In our previous study, a 20-fold increase in initial copper concentration enabled CHO cultures to shift from net lactate production to net lactate consumption, and achieve higher cell growth and productivity. In this follow-up study, we used transcriptomics to investigate the mechanism of action (MOA) of copper that mediates this beneficial metabolism shift. From microarray profiling (days 0-7), the number of differentially expressed genes increased considerably after the lactate shift (>day 3). To uncouple the effects of copper at early time points (days 0-3) from that of lactate per se (>day 3), and to validate microarray hits, we analyzed samples before the lactate shift by RNA-Seq. Out of 6,398 overlapping genes analyzed by both transcriptomic methods, only the early growth response 1 gene-coding for a transcription factor that activates signaling pathways in response to environmental stimuli-satisfied the differential expression criteria (fold change ? 1.5; P < 0.05). Gene expression correlation and biological pathway analyses further confirmed that copper differences exerted minimal transcriptional impact on the CHO cultures before the lactate shift. By contrast, genes associated with hypoxia network and oxidative stress response were upregulated after the lactate shift. These upregulations should boost cell proliferation and survival, but do not account for the preceding shift in lactate metabolism. The findings here indicate that the primary MOA of copper that enabled the shift in lactate metabolism is not at the transcriptional level.
Recent development of high-throughput, multiplexing technology has initiated projects that systematically investigate interactions between two types of components in biological networks, for instance transcription factors and promoter sequences, or microRNAs (miRNAs) and mRNAs. In terms of network biology, such screening approaches primarily attempt to elucidate relations between biological components of two distinct types, which can be represented as edges between nodes in a bipartite graph. However, it is often desirable not only to determine regulatory relationships between nodes of different types, but also to understand the connection patterns of nodes of the same type. Especially interesting is the co-occurrence of two nodes of the same type, i.e., the number of their common neighbours, which current high-throughput screening analysis fails to address. The co-occurrence gives the number of circumstances under which both of the biological components are influenced in the same way. Here we present SICORE, a novel network-based method to detect pairs of nodes with a statistically significant co-occurrence. We first show the stability of the proposed method on artificial data sets: when randomly adding and deleting observations we obtain reliable results even with noise exceeding the expected level in large-scale experiments. Subsequently, we illustrate the viability of the method based on the analysis of a proteomic screening data set to reveal regulatory patterns of human microRNAs targeting proteins in the EGFR-driven cell cycle signalling system. Since statistically significant co-occurrence may indicate functional synergy and the mechanisms underlying canalization, and thus hold promise in drug target identification and therapeutic development, we provide a platform-independent implementation of SICORE with a graphical user interface as a novel tool in the arsenal of high-throughput screening analysis.
MicroRNA-200c (miR-200c) has been shown to suppress epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which is attributed mainly to targeting of ZEB1/ZEB2, repressors of the cell-cell contact protein E-cadherin. Here we demonstrated that modulation of miR-200c in breast cancer cells regulates cell migration, cell elongation, and transforming growth factor ? (TGF-?)-induced stress fiber formation by impacting the reorganization of cytoskeleton that is independent of the ZEB/E-cadherin axis. We identified FHOD1 and PPM1F, direct regulators of the actin cytoskeleton, as novel targets of miR-200c. Remarkably, expression levels of FHOD1 and PPM1F were inversely correlated with the level of miR-200c in breast cancer cell lines, breast cancer patient samples, and 58 cancer cell lines of various origins. Furthermore, individual knockdown/overexpression of these target genes phenocopied the effects of miR-200c overexpression/inhibition on cell elongation, stress fiber formation, migration, and invasion. Mechanistically, targeting of FHOD1 by miR-200c resulted in decreased expression and transcriptional activity of serum response factor (SRF), mediated by interference with the translocation of the SRF coactivator mycocardin-related transcription factor A (MRTF-A). This finally led to downregulation of the expression and phosphorylation of the SRF target myosin light chain 2 (MLC2) gene, required for stress fiber formation and contractility. Thus, miR-200c impacts on metastasis by regulating several EMT-related processes, including a novel mechanism involving the direct targeting of actin-regulatory proteins.
Analysis of biological processes is frequently performed with the help of phenotypic assays where data is mostly acquired in single end-point analysis. Alternative phenotypic profiling techniques are desired where time-series information is essential to the biological question, for instance to differentiate early and late regulators of cell proliferation in loss-of-function studies. So far there is no study addressing this question despite of high unmet interests, mostly due to the limitation of conventional end-point assaying technologies. We present the first human kinome screen with a real-time cell analysis system (RTCA) to capture dynamic RNAi phenotypes, employing time-resolved monitoring of cell proliferation via electrical impedance. RTCA allowed us to investigate the dynamics of phenotypes of cell proliferation instead of using conventional end-point analysis. By introducing data transformation with first-order derivative, i.e. the cell-index growth rate, we demonstrate this system suitable for high-throughput screenings (HTS). The screen validated previously identified inhibitor genes and, additionally, identified activators of cell proliferation. With the information of time kinetics available, we could establish a network of mitotic-event related genes to be among the first displaying inhibiting effects after RNAi knockdown. The time-resolved screen captured kinetics of cell proliferation caused by RNAi targeting human kinome, serving as a resource for researchers. Our work establishes RTCA technology as a novel robust tool with biological and pharmacological relevance amenable for high-throughput screening.
KEGG PATHWAY is a service of Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG), constructing manually curated pathway maps that represent current knowledge on biological networks in graph models. While valuable graph tools have been implemented in R/Bioconductor, to our knowledge there is currently no software package to parse and analyze KEGG pathways with graph theory.
The EGFR-driven cell-cycle pathway has been extensively studied due to its pivotal role in breast cancer proliferation and pathogenesis. Although several studies reported regulation of individual pathway components by microRNAs (miRNAs), little is known about how miRNAs coordinate the EGFR protein network on a global miRNA (miRNome) level. Here, we combined a large-scale miRNA screening approach with a high-throughput proteomic readout and network-based data analysis to identify which miRNAs are involved, and to uncover potential regulatory patterns. Our results indicated that the regulation of proteins by miRNAs is dominated by the nucleotide matching mechanism between seed sequences of the miRNAs and 3-UTR of target genes. Furthermore, the novel network-analysis methodology we developed implied the existence of consistent intrinsic regulatory patterns where miRNAs simultaneously co-regulate several proteins acting in the same functional module. Finally, our approach led us to identify and validate three miRNAs (miR-124, miR-147 and miR-193a-3p) as novel tumor suppressors that co-target EGFR-driven cell-cycle network proteins and inhibit cell-cycle progression and proliferation in breast cancer.
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