Background: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small regulatory RNAs that are implicated in cancer pathogenesis and have recently shown promise as blood-based biomarkers for cancer detection. Epithelial ovarian cancer is a deadly disease for which improved outcomes could be achieved by successful early detection and enhanced understanding of molecular pathogenesis that leads to improved therapies. A critical step toward these goals is to establish a comprehensive view of miRNAs expressed in epithelial ovarian cancer tissues as well as in normal ovarian surface epithelial cells.
Methodology: We used massively parallel pyrosequencing (i.e., "454 sequencing") to discover and characterize novel and known miRNAs expressed in primary cultures of normal human ovarian surface epithelium (HOSE) and in tissue from three of the most common histotypes of ovarian cancer. Deep sequencing of small RNA cDNA libraries derived from normal HOSE and ovarian cancer samples yielded a total of 738,710 high-quality sequence reads, generating comprehensive digital profiles of miRNA expression. Expression profiles for 498 previously annotated miRNAs were delineated and we discovered six novel miRNAs and 39 candidate miRNAs. A set of 124 miRNAs was differentially expressed in normal versus cancer samples and 38 miRNAs were differentially expressed across histologic subtypes of ovarian cancer. Taqman qRT-PCR performed on a subset of miRNAs confirmed results of the sequencing-based study.
Conclusions: This report expands the body of miRNAs known to be expressed in epithelial ovarian cancer and provides a useful resource for future studies of the role of miRNAs in the pathogenesis and early detection of ovarian cancer.