Purpose: To better understand microRNA miR-21 function in carcinogenesis, we analyzed miR-21 expression patterns in different stages of colorectal cancer development using in situ hybridization (ISH). Experimental Design: Locked nucleic acid (LNA)/DNA probes and a biotin-free tyramide signal amplification system were used in ISH analyses of miRNA expression. Conditions for specific detection of miR-21 were determined using human cell lines and miR-21-expressing lentiviral vectors. Expression was determined in 39 surgically excised colorectal tumors and 34 endoscopically resected colorectal polyps. Results: In the surgical samples, miR-21 expression was much higher in colorectal cancers than in normal mucosa. Strong miR-21 expression was also observed in cancer-associated stromal fibroblasts, suggesting miR-21 induction by cancer-secreted cytokines. Protein expression of PDCD4, a miR-21 target, was inversely correlated with miR-21 expression, confirming that miR-21 is indeed a negative regulator of PDCD4 in vivo. In the endoscopic samples, miR-21 expression was very high in malignant adenocarcinomas but was not elevated in nontumorigenic polyps. Precancerous adenomas also frequently showed miR-21 up-regulation. Conclusion: Using the LNA-ISH system for miRNA detection, miR-21 was detectable in precancerous adenomas. The frequency and extent of miR-21 expression increased during the transition from precancerous colorectal adenoma to advanced carcinoma. Expression patterns of miR-21 RNA and its target, tumor suppressor protein PDCD4, were mutually exclusive. This pattern may have clinical application as a biomarker for colorectal cancer development andmight be emphasized by self-reinforcing regulatory systems integrated with the miR-21 gene, which has been previously shown in cell culture.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research