Single-nucleotide polymorphisms inside microRNA target sites influence tumor susceptibility

Milena S. Nicoloso, Hao Sun, Riccardo Spizzo, Hyunsoo Kim, Priyankara Wickramasinghe, Masayoshi Shimizu, Sylwia E. Wojcik, Jana Ferdin, Tanja Kunej, Lianchun Xiao, Siranoush Manoukian, Giorgio Secreto, Fernando Ravagnani, Xuemei Wang, Paolo Radice, Carlo M. Croce, Ramana V. Davuluri, George A. Calin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) associated with polygenetic disorders, such as breast cancer (BC), can create, destroy, or modify microRNA (miRNA) binding sites; however, the extent to which SNPs interfere with miRNA gene regulation and affect cancer susceptibility remains largely unknown. We hypothesize that disruption of miRNA target binding by SNPs is a widespread mechanism relevant to cancer susceptibility. To test this, we analyzed SNPs known to be associated with BC risk, in silico and in vitro, for their ability to modify miRNA binding sites and miRNA gene regulation and referred to these as target SNPs. We identified rs1982073-TGFB1 and rs1799782-XRCC1 as target SNPs, whose alleles could modulate gene expression by differential interaction with miR-187 and miR-138, respectively. Genome-wide bioinformatics analysis predicted ∼64% of transcribed SNPs as target SNPs that can modify (increase/decrease) the binding energy of putative miRNA::mRNA duplexes by >90%. To assess whether target SNPs are implicated in BC susceptibility, we conducted a case-control population study and observed that germline occurrence of rs799917-BRCA1 and rs334348-TGFR1 significantly varies among populations with different risks of developing BC. Luciferase activity of target SNPs, allelic variants, and protein levels in cancer cell lines with different genotypes showed differential regulation of target genes following overexpression of the two interacting miRNAs (miR-638 and miR-628-Sp). Therefore, we propose that transcribed target SNPs alter miRNA gene regulation and, consequently, protein expression, contributing to the likelihood of cancer susceptibility, by a novel mechanism of subtle gene regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2789-2798
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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