Glioblastoma is the most common primary brain tumor in adults; with a survival rate of 12 months from diagnosis. However, a small subgroup of patients, termed long-term survivors (LTS), has a survival rate longer then 12-14 months. There is thus increasing interest in the identification of molecular signatures predicting glioblastoma prognosis and in how to improve the therapeutic approach. Here, we report miR-340 as prognostic tumor-suppressor microRNA for glioblastoma. We analyzed microRNA expression in > 500 glioblastoma patients and found that although miR-340 is strongly down-regulated in glioblastoma overall, it is up-regulated in LTS patients compared to short-term survivors (STS). Indeed, miR-340 expression predicted better prognosis in glioblastoma patients. Coherently, overexpression of miR-340 in glioblastoma cells was found to produce a tumor-suppressive activity. We identified NRAS mRNA as a critical, direct target of miR-340: in fact, miR-340 negatively influenced multiple aspects of glioblastoma tumorigenesis by down-regulating NRAS and downstream AKT and ERK pathways. Thus, we demonstrate that expression of miR-340 in glioblastoma is responsible for a strong tumor-suppressive effect in LTS patients by down-regulating NRAS. miR-340 may thus represent a novel marker for glioblastoma diagnosis and prognosis, and may be developed into a tool to improve treatment of glioblastoma.
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