Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) is an aggressive leukemia of early childhood characterized by aberrant proliferation of myelomonocytic cells and hypersensitivity to GM-CSF stimulation. Mutually exclusive mutations in the RAS/ERK pathway genes such as PTPN11, NRAS, KRAS, CBL, or NF1 are found in ~90% of the cases. These mutations give rise to disease at least in part by activating STAT5 through phosphorylation and by promoting cell growth. MicroRNAs (miRs) are small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression, which are often deregulated in leukemia. However, little is known about their role in JMML. Here, we report distinctive miR expression signatures associated with the molecular subgroups of JMML. Among the downregulated miRs in JMML, miR-150-5p was found to target STAT5b, a gene which is often over-activated in JMML, and contributes to the characteristic aberrant signaling of this disorder. Moreover, loss of miR-150-5p and upregulation of STAT5b expression were also identified in a murine model of JMML. Ectopic overexpression of miR-150-5p in mononuclear cells from three JMML patients significantly decreased cell proliferation. Altogether, our data indicate that miR expression is deregulated in JMML and may play a role in the pathogenesis of this disorder by modulating key effectors of cytokine receptor pathways.
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