Navigation Links
MicroRNA network study implicates rewired interactions in cancer

May 3, 2010 Genes interact in complex networks that govern cellular processes, much like people connect a social network through relationships. Researchers are now discovering how biological networks change and are rewired in cancer. In a study published today in Genome Research (, scientists have analyzed the genetic networks of microRNAs in tumors, shedding light on how interactions go awry in disease.

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short RNA molecules encoded by plant, animal, and viral genomes that have garnered significant interest for their ability to regulate gene expression. Many critical biological processes are regulated by miRNAs, and recent evidence has shown that alterations in miRNA expression is involved in human tumor development and metastasis.

Investigations into the role of miRNAs in cancer up until now have largely focused on the function and expression of individual miRNAs, but miRNA function is more complex and interwoven. "MicroRNAs were always considered as singles, generally unrelated to each other in the miRNA world," said Ohio State University researcher Carlo Croce. "We did not know much about how miRNAs cooperate."

Because a single miRNA is likely to regulate many genes, and each target gene may be regulated by more than one miRNA, Croce and an international team of colleagues suggested that in order to capture the complex patterns of miRNA expression in cancer, the system must be thought of as a "social network" that coordinates the delicate balance of gene regulation.

Croce explained that in healthy tissues, miRNAs are connected in networks and different cell types have different network connections. In cancer, it is likely that normal network interactions have become disrupted or rewired, contributing to disease.

The group analyzed patterns of miRNA expression levels in a large set of normal and cancerous tissue samples, mapping groups of miRNAs exhibiting highly related patterns of expression. Once relationships were recognized, they could then build a genetic network revealing the most highly connected miRNAs, called "hubs."

When comparing the miRNA networks built from normal tissues to the networks built from tumor samples, Croce's team found cases where the miRNA networks have been reprogrammed in cancer. In some cases, they found that the highly connected miRNA hubs changed between cancer and normal tissues.

They also identified even more extreme cases of tumor network changes. "Groups of miRNAs go awry and exit from the 'social network' altogether," Croce said. "In solid cancers there can be a few, or more, groups of such misbehaved miRNAs, while in leukemias we found only one or two." Some of these "unsocial" miRNAs have well-known roles in cancer, but others had not been implicated until now.

This work is particularly significant in that novel cancer genes have been discovered utilizing a strategy based on relationships, rather than up or down regulation of expression. "The miRNAs we discovered can now be used as targets for drug development," Croce added, "or to pinpoint candidate proteins, which, in turn, they regulate."


Contact: Peggy Calicchia
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Related biology news :

1. Pitt researchers discover big role for microRNA in lethal lung fibrosis
2. Penn biologists determine microRNA activity is suppressed in mouse ovum
3. Scientists use microRNAs to track evolutionary history for first time
4. MicroRNA in human saliva may help diagnose oral cancer
5. MicroRNAs help control HIV life cycle
6. MicroRNAs grease the cells circadian clockwork
7. Scientists identify novel inhibitor of human microRNA
8. Mass. Generals Warren Triennial Prize honors discoverers of microRNAs
9. MicroRNA implicated as molecular factor in alcohol tolerance
10. Scientists dig deeper into the genetics of schizophrenia by evaluating microRNAs
11. Yale scientists show that a microRNA can reduce lung cancer growth
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/12/2015)... 12, 2015  Arxspan has entered into an ... Harvard for use of its ArxLab cloud-based suite ... The partnership will support the institute,s efforts to ... research information internally and with external collaborators. The ... managing the Institute,s electronic laboratory notebook, compound and ...
(Date:11/9/2015)... DUBLIN , Nov. 09, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... announced the addition of the "Global ... to their offering. --> ... "Global Law Enforcement Biometrics Market 2015-2019" ... Research and Markets ( ) ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... Calif. , Oct. 29, 2015  The J. ... new report titled, "DNA Synthesis and Biosecurity: Lessons Learned ... the Department of Health and Human Services guidance for ... in 2010. --> ... it also has the potential to pose unique biosecurity ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - ProMetic Life Sciences Inc. (TSX: ... Mr. Pierre Laurin , President and Chief Executive Officer ... upcoming Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference to ... 1-2, 2015. st , at 8.50am (ET) ... throughout the day. The presentation will be available live via ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... ... Whitehouse Laboratories is pleased to announce that it has completed construction on ... to basic USP 61, USP 62 and USP 51 testing specific to raw materials ... micro testing performed by one supplier. Management has formally announced that the ...
(Date:11/23/2015)... ... November 23, 2015 , ... Shimadzu Corporation announces ... Nexera UC Unified Chromatography system. The award from R&D magazine recognizes Shimadzu’s Nexera ... the year in the analytical and testing category. R&D Magazine chose the Nexera ...
(Date:11/23/2015)... , Nov. 23, 2015  CryoLife, Inc. (NYSE: ... focused on cardiac and vascular surgery, announced today that it ... Jaffray Healthcare Conference on Wednesday, December 2, 2015 at The ... . Pat Mackin , President and Chief ... and Chief Executive Officer. --> A live ...
Breaking Biology Technology: