CONTEXT: A previous micro-RNA expression profile of thyroid follicular adenomas identified miR-142 precursor among the miRNAs downregulated in the neoplastic tissues compared to normal thyroid gland.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this work has been to assess the expression of miR-142-3p in a large panel of follicular thyroid adenomas and carcinomas and evaluate its effect on thyroid cell proliferation and target expression.
DESIGN: The expression of miR-142-3p was analyzed by qRT-PCR in thyroid follicular adenomas and carcinomas, compared to normal thyroids. MiR-142-3p expression was restored in WRO cells and the effects on cell proliferation and target expression were evaluated.
RESULTS: Here we show that miR-142-3p is downregulated in FTAs, FTCs, and FVPTCs. MiR-142-3p was demonstrated to reduce the proliferation rate of WRO and FTC133 cells, supporting its tumor suppressor role in thyroid cancerogenesis. Moreover, this microRNA was able to downregulate the expression of ASH1L and MLL1, by direct and indirect mechanisms, respectively. Consistently, an inverse correlation between miR-142-3p expression and ASH1L and MLL1 proteins was found in thyroid follicular adenomas and carcinomas. ASH1L and MLL1, which belong to the Trithorax group (TrxG) proteins and are major regulators of Homeobox gene expression, maintain active target gene transcription by histone 3 lysine 4 methylation. Interestingly, we found that FTCs and FTC cell lines express tumor specific, shorter forms of the two proteins. The capability of miR-142-3p to modulate the levels of these tumor-associated forms and to reactivate thyroid-specific Hox gene expression, likely contributes to its tumor suppressive function.
CONCLUSIONS: These data demonstrate that miR-142-3p downregulation has a role in thyroid tumorigenesis, by regulating ASH1L and MLL1.
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