Background: The development of colon cancer represents a major complication in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The importance of microRNAs (miRs) in carcinogenesis is becoming clearer because miRs have been implicated in the regulation of cancer-related cellular processes to include apoptosis, differentiation, cell cycle progression, and immune function. In the current study, we sought to identify miR dysregulation specific to progression along the normal-inflammation-cancer axis in colonic specimens from patients with IBD.
Methods: MiR microarrays and quantitative reverse transcription PCR were used to detect and confirm dysregulated miRs. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis was applied to evaluate the potential use of miR-224 as a neoplastic disease marker in IBD. For miR-224 target messenger RNA (mRNA) identification, mRNA microarrays were employed in combination with bioinformatic analyses, Western blotting, and luciferase activity measurements.
Results: We identified 30 miRs that were differentially expressed between chronically inflamed mucosae and cancers arising from IBD tissues. MiR-224 levels increased successively at each stage of IBD progression and accurately discriminated cancers from normal or chronically inflamed IBD tissues. Moreover, mRNA arrays combined with bioinformatic analyses suggested the participation of miR-224 in cell cycle regulation. Subsequently, cell cycle experiments indicated that miR-224 regulates the G1-S checkpoint. Finally, in silico prediction analyses, confirmed by Western blotting and luciferase assays, identified p21 as a specific direct mRNA target of miR-224.
Conclusions: These findings reveal miR dysregulation specific to IBD-associated colorectal carcinoma. MiR-224 is overexpressed in IBD cancers and targets p21, a key cell cycle regulator. Moreover, these results establish the participation of miR-224 in IBD carcinogenesis.