RNA-Seq Identifies a Panel of MicroRNAs as Diagnostic Biomarkers for Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common non-cutaneous cancer among men; yet, current diagnostic methods are insufficient, and more reliable diagnostic markers need to be developed. One answer that can bridge this gap may lie in microRNAs. These small RNA molecules impact protein expression at the translational level, regulating important cellular pathways, the dysregulation of which can exert tumorigenic effects contributing to cancer.

In this study, researchers from VCU Medical Center and the Massey Cancer Center performed high throughput sequencing of small RNAs extracted from blood of 28 prostate cancer patients at initial stages of diagnosis and prior to treatment to identify microRNAs that could be utilized as diagnostic biomarkers for prostate cancer compared to 12 healthy controls. In addition, a group of four microRNAs (miR-1468-3p, miR-146a-5p, miR-1538 and miR-197-3p) was identified as normalization standards for subsequent qRT-PCR confirmation. qRT-PCR analysis corroborated microRNA sequencing results for the seven top dysregulated microRNAs. The abundance of four microRNAs (miR-127-3p, miR-204-5p, miR-329-3p and miR-487b-3p) was upregulated in blood, whereas the levels of three microRNAs (miR-32-5p, miR-20a-5p and miR-454-3p) were downregulated. Data analysis of the receiver operating curves for these selected microRNAs exhibited a better correlation with prostate cancer than PSA (prostate-specific antigen), the current gold standard for prostate cancer detection. In summary, a panel of seven microRNAs is proposed, many of which have prostate-specific targets, which may represent a significant improvement over current testing methods.


Relationship between microRNA content in prostate tumor cell derived from the TCGA database versus our analysis of blood in prostate cancer patients. The tumor cell retains oncomiRs, but disposes of tumor suppressors to enhance tumorigenesis.

Daniel R, Wu Q, Williams V, Clark G, Guruli G, Zehner Z. (2017) A Panel of MicroRNAs as Diagnostic Biomarkers for the Identification of Prostate Cancer. Int J Mol Sci 18(6). [article]

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