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Abstract

MicroRNAs (miRs) recently emerged as prominent regulators of cancer processes. In the current study we aimed at elucidating regulatory pathways and mechanisms through which miR-494, one of the miR species found to be down-regulated in cholangiocarcinoma (CCA), participates in cancer homeostasis. miR-494 was identified as down-regulated in CCA based on miR arrays. Its expression was verified with quantitative real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). To enforce miR expression, we employed both transfection methods, as well as a retroviral construct to stably overexpress miR-494. Up-regulation of miR-494 in cancer cells decreased growth, consistent with a functional role. mRNA arrays of cells treated with miR-494, followed by pathway analysis, suggested that miR-494 impacts cell cycle regulation. Cell cycle analyses demonstrated that miR-494 induces a significant G1/S checkpoint reinforcement. Further analyses demonstrated that miR-494 down-regulates multiple molecules involved in this transition checkpoint. Luciferase reporter assays demonstrated a direct interaction between miR-494 and the 3′-untranslated region of cyclin-dependent kinase 6 (CDK6). Last, xenograft experiments demonstrated that miR-494 induces a significant cancer growth retardation in vivo. Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate that miR-494 is down-regulated in CCA and that its up-regulation induces cancer cell growth retardation through multiple targets involved in the G1-S transition. These findings support the paradigm that miRs are salient cellular signaling pathway modulators, and thus represent attractive therapeutic targets. miR-494 emerges as an important regulator of CCA growth and its further study may lead to the development of novel therapeutics. (HEPATOLOGY 2011)