Copy number variation (CNV) and abnormal expression of microRNAs (miRNAs) always lead to deregulation of genes in cancer, including gastric cancer (GC). However, little is known about how CNVs affect the expression of miRNAs. By integrating CNV and miRNA profiles in the same samples, we identified eight miRNAs (miR-1274a, miR-196b, miR-4298, miR-181c, miR-181d, miR-23a, miR-27a and miR-24-2) that were located in the amplified regions and were upregulated in GC. In particular, amplification of miR-23a-27a-24-2 cluster and miR-181c-181d cluster frequently occurred at 19p13.13 and were confirmed by genomic real-time PCR in another 25 paired GC samples. Moreover, in situ hybridization (ISH) experiments represented that mature miR-23a was increased in GCs (75.5%, 40/53) compared with matched normal tissues (28.6%, 14/49, P = 0.001). Knocking down of miR-23a expression inhibited BGC823 cell growth in vitro and in vivo. In addition, the potential target genes of miR-23a were investigated by integration of mRNA profile and miRNA TargetScan predictions, we found that upregulation of miR-23a and downregulation of metallothionein 2A (MT2A) were detected simultaneously in 70% (7/10) of the miRNA and mRNA profiles. Furthermore, an inverse correlation between miR-23a and MT2A expression was detected in GCs and normal tissues. Through combining luciferase assay, we confirmed that MT2A is a potential target of miR-23a. In conclusion, these results suggest that integration of CNV-miRNA-mRNA profiling is a powerful tool for identifying molecular signatures, and that miR-23a might play a role in regulating MT2A expression in GC. J. Cell. Biochem. 114: 2160–2169, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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