Circular RNAs are a large group of RNAs whose cellular functions are still being investigated. We recently proposed that circSMARCA5 acts as sponge for the splicing factor Serine and Arginine Rich Splicing Factor 1 (SRSF1) in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). After demonstrating by RNA immunoprecipitation a physical interaction between SRFS1 and circSMARCA5, we assayed by real-time PCR in a cohort of 31 GBM biopsies and 20 unaffected brain parenchyma controls (UC) the expression of total, pro-angiogenic (Iso8a) and anti-angiogenic (Iso8b) mRNA isoforms of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A (VEGFA), a known splicing target of SRSF1. The Iso8a to Iso8b ratio: (i) increased in GBM biopsies with respect to UC (p-value < 0.00001); (ii) negatively correlated with the expression of circSMARCA5 (r-value = −0.46, p-value = 0.006); (iii) decreased in U87-MG overexpressing circSMARCA5 with respect to negative control (p-value = 0.0055). Blood vascular microvessel density, estimated within the same biopsies, negatively correlated with the expression of circSMARCA5 (r-value = −0.59, p-value = 0.00001), while positively correlated with that of SRSF1 (r-value = 0.38, p-value = 0.00663) and the Iso8a to Iso8b ratio (r-value = 0.41, p-value = 0.0259). Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed that GBM patients with low circSMARCA5 expression had lower overall and progression free survival rates than those with higher circSMARCA5 expression (p-values = 0.033, 0.012, respectively). Our data convincingly suggest that circSMARCA5 is an upstream regulator of pro- to anti-angiogenic VEGFA isoforms ratio within GBM cells and a highly promising GBM prognostic and prospective anti-angiogenic molecule.
Circular RNAs (circRNAs) have recently emerged as a new class of RNAs, highly enriched in the brain and very stable within cells, exosomes and body fluids. To analyze their involvement in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) pathogenesis, we assayed the expression of twelve circRNAs, physiologically enriched in several regions of the brain, through real-time PCR in a cohort of fifty-six GBM patient biopsies and seven normal brain parenchymas. We focused on hsa_circ_0001445 (circSMARCA5): it was significantly downregulated in GBM biopsies as compared to normal brain tissues (p-value < 0.00001, student’s t-test), contrary to its linear isoform counterpart that did not show any differential expression (p-value = 0.694, student’s t-test). Analysis of a public dataset revealed a negative correlation between the expression of circSMARCA5 and glioma’s histological grade, suggesting its potential negative role in the progression to malignancy. Overexpressing circSMARCA5 in U87MG cells significantly decreased their migration, but not their proliferation rate. In silico scanning of circSMARCA5 sequence revealed an enrichment in binding motifs for several RNA binding proteins (RBPs), specifically involved in splicing. Among them, serine and arginine rich splicing factor 1 (SRSF1), a splicing factor known to be a positive controller of cell migration and known to be overexpressed in GBM, was predicted to bind circSMARCA5 by three different prediction tools. Direct interaction between circSMARCA5 and SRSF1 is supported by enhanced UV crosslinking and immunoprecipitation (eCLIP) data for SRSF1 in K562 cells from Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE). Consistently, U87MG overexpressing circSMARCA5 showed an increased expression of serine and arginine rich splicing factor 3 (SRSF3) RNA isoform containing exon 4, normally skipped in a SRSF1-dependent manner, resulting in a non-productive non-sense mediated decay (NMD) substrate. Interestingly, SRSF3 is known to interplay with two other splicing factors, polypyrimidine tract binding protein 1 (PTBP1) and polypyrimidine tract binding protein 2 (PTBP2), that positively regulate glioma cells migration. Collectively, our data show circSMARCA5 as a promising druggable tumor suppressor in GBM and suggest that it may exert its function by tethering the RBP SRSF1.
Uveal melanoma (UM) represents approximately 5-6% of all melanoma diagnoses and up to 50% of patients succumb to their disease. Although several methods are available, accurate diagnosis is not always easily feasible because of potential accidents (e.g., intraocular hemorrhage). Based on the assumption that the profile of circulating miRNAs is often altered in human cancers, we verified whether UM patients showed different vitreous humor (VH) or serum miRNA profiles with respect to healthy controls. By using TaqMan Low Density Arrays, we analyzed 754 miRNAs from VH, vitreal exosomes, and serum of 6 UM patients and 6 healthy donors: our data demonstrated that the UM VH profile was unique and only partially overlapping with that from serum of the same patients. Whereas, 90% of miRNAs were shared between VH and vitreal exosomes, and their alterations in UM were statistically overlapped with those of VH and vitreal exosomes, suggesting that VH alterations could result from exosomal dysregulation. We report 32 miRNAs differentially expressed in UM patients in at least 2 different types of samples analyzed. We validated these data on an independent cohort of 12 UM patients. Most alterations were common to VH and vitreal exosomes (e.g., upregulation of miR-21,-34 a,-146a). Interestingly, miR-146a was upregulated in the serum of UM patients, as well as in serum exosomes. Upregulation of miR-21 and miR-146a was also detected in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded UM, suggesting that VH or serum alterations in UM could be the consequence of disregulation arising from tumoral cells. Our findings suggest the possibility to detect in VH and serum of UM patients "diagnostic" miRNAs released by the affected eye: based on this, miR-146a could be considered a potential circulating marker of UM.
Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) and circular RNAs (circRNAs) contribute to the onset of many neoplasias through RNA-RNA competitive interactions; in addition, they could be secreted by cancer cells into biological fluids, suggesting their potential diagnostic application. By analyzing the expression of 17 lncRNAs and 31 circRNAs in biopsies and serum exosomes from colorectal cancer (CRC) patients through qRT-PCR, we detected CCAT1, CCAT2, HOTAIR, and UCA1 upregulation and CDR1AS, MALAT1, and TUG1 downregulation in biopsies. In serum exosomes, UCA1 was downregulated, while circHIPK3 and TUG1 were upregulated. Combined receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves of TUG1:UCA1 and circHIPK3:UCA1 showed high values of sensitivity and specificity. Through in vitro (i.e., RNA silencing and mitogen-activated protein kinase [MAPK] inhibition) and in silico analyses (i.e., expression correlation and RNA-RNA-binding prediction), we found that UCA1 could (1) be controlled by MAPKs through CEBPB; (2) sequester miR-135a, miR-143, miR-214, and miR-1271, protecting ANLN, BIRC5, IPO7, KIF2A, and KIF23 from microRNA (miRNA)-induced degradation; and (3) interact with mRNA 3′-UTRs, preventing miRNA binding. UCA1 and its co-regulated antisense LINC01764 could interact and reciprocally mask their own miRNA-binding sites. Functional enrichment analysis of the RNA-RNA network controlled by UCA1 suggested its potential involvement in cellular migration. The UCA1 regulatory axis would represent a promising target to develop innovative RNA-based therapeutics against CRC.
Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness among people aged 50 and over. Retinal deposition of amyloid-β (Aβ) aggregates in AMD patients has suggested a potential link between AMD and Alzheimer's disease (AD). We have evaluated the differential retinal expression profile of miRNAs in a rat model of AMD elicited by Aβ. A serum profile of miRNAs in AMD patients has been also assessed using single TaqMan assay. Analysis of retina from rats intravitreally injected with Aβ revealed that miR-27a, miR-146a, and miR-155 were up-regulated in comparison to control rats. Seven miRNA (miR-9, miR-23a, miR-27a, miR-34a, miR-126, miR-146a, and miR-155) have been found to be dysregulated in serum of AMD patients in comparison to control group. Analysis of pathways has revealed that dysregulated miRNAs, both in the AMD animal model and in AMD patients, can target genes regulating pathways linked to neurodegeneration and inflammation, reinforcing the hypothesis that AMD is a protein misfolding disease similar to AD. In fact, miR-9, miR-23a, miR-27a, miR-34a, miR-146a, miR-155 have been found to be dysregulated both in AMD and AD. In conclusion, we suggest that miR-9, miR-23a, miR-27a, miR-34a, miR-146a, miR-155 represent potential biomarkers and new pharmacological targets for AMD.
Concussion is difficult to diagnose, particularly when symptoms are atypical or late in presenting. An accurate and timely initial assessment is crucial for clinical management. Cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) and blood markers of traumatic brain injury show promising results but their clinical applicability in concussion has significant limitations. In the study, we explored saliva as a new source of biomarkers of concussion. Saliva samples of concussed players were collected after 48–72 h from concussion and analyzed by high-throughput technologies. A discovery group of 10 concussed rugby professional and semiprofessional athletes and 10 non-concussed matched controls was used for the analysis of 92 inflammatory proteins by the Proseek-Multiplex-Inflammation technology. In addition, saliva samples of 6 concussed and 6 non-concussed athletes were used to screen 800 human microRNAs (miRNAs) by the Nanostring Technology. The results were then validated by RT-qPCR in an enlarged cohort (validation group) comprising 22 concussed athletes. Results showed, no significant variations of the 65 inflammatory proteins detected in saliva between groups but 5 microRNAs, miR-27b-3p (p = 0.016), let-7i-5p (p = 0.001), miR-142-3p (p = 0.008), miR-107 (p = 0.028), miR-135b-5p (p = 0.017) significantly upregulated in concussed athletes. Univariate ROC curve analysis showed that the differentially expressed miRNAs could be considered good classifiers of concussion. Further analyses showed significant correlation between these microRNAs and Reaction Time component of the ImPACT concussion assessment tool. In addition, biocomputation analysis predicted the involvement of these microRNAs in important biological processes that might be related to trauma, such as response to hypoxia, cell death, neurogenesis, axon repair and myelination. Ease of access and non-invasiveness of saliva samples make these biomarkers particularly suitable for concussion assessment.
For two decades Vogelstein's model has been the paradigm for describing the sequence of molecular changes within protein-coding genes that would lead to overt colorectal cancer (CRC). This model is now too simplistic in the light of recent studies, which have shown that our genome is pervasively transcribed in RNAs other than mRNAs, denominated non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). The discovery that mutations in genes encoding these RNAs [i.e., microRNAs (miRNAs), long non-coding RNAs, and circular RNAs] are causally involved in cancer phenotypes has profoundly modified our vision of tumour molecular genetics and pathobiology. By exploiting a wide range of different mechanisms, ncRNAs control fundamental cellular processes, such as proliferation, differentiation, migration, angiogenesis and apoptosis: these data have also confirmed their role as oncogenes or tumor suppressors in cancer development and progression. The existence of a sophisticated RNA-based regulatory system, which dictates the correct functioning of protein-coding networks, has relevant biological and biomedical consequences. Different miRNAs involved in neoplastic and degenerative diseases exhibit potential predictive and prognostic properties. Furthermore, the key roles of ncRNAs make them very attractive targets for innovative therapeutic approaches. Several recent reports have shown that ncRNAs can be secreted by cells into the extracellular environment (i.e., blood and other body fluids): this suggests the existence of extracellular signalling mechanisms, which may be exploited by cells in physiology and pathology. In this review, we will summarize the most relevant issues on the involvement of cellular and extracellular ncRNAs in disease. We will then specifically describe their involvement in CRC pathobiology and their translational applications to CRC diagnosis, prognosis and therapy.
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