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Keywords:

  • MicroRNA expression;
  • Molecular diagnostics;
  • Tumor classification

Abstract

A recurring challenge for brain pathologists is to diagnose whether a brain malignancy is a primary tumor or a metastasis from some other tissue. The accurate diagnosis of brain malignancies is essential for selection of proper treatment. MicroRNAs are a class of small non-coding RNA species that regulate gene expression; many exhibit tissue-specific expression and are misregulated in cancer. Using microRNA expression profiling, we found that hsa-miR-92b and hsa-miR-9/hsa-miR-9* are over-expressed, specifically in brain primary tumors, as compared to primary tumors from other tissues and their metastases to the brain. By considering the expression of only these two microRNAs, it is possible to distinguish between primary and metastatic brain tumors with very high accuracy. These microRNAs thus represent excellent biomarkers for brain primary tumors. Previous reports have found that hsa-miR-92b and hsa-miR-9/hsa-miR-9* are expressed more strongly in developing neurons and brain than in adult brain. Thus, their specific over-expression in brain primary tumors supports a functional role for these microRNAs or a link between neuronal stem cells and brain tumorigenesis.