Background & aims: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression. The tumor suppressor miRNA let-7a has been reported to be inhibited posttranscriptionally in embryonic stem cells and in human cancers. Microtubule-associated kinase DCAMKL-1 is a putative intestinal stem cell marker that is expressed in Apc(Min/+) adenomas. We investigated the role of DCAMKL-1 on expression of let-7a miRNA and the oncogene c-Myc and in tumorigenesis.
Methods: Human tissue microassay slides were immunostained for DCAMKL-1. HCT116 and SW480 cells were transfected with DCAMKL-1 small interfering RNA (siRNA) (si-DCAMKL-1) and analyzed for DCAMKL-1, c-Myc (using immunoblot and real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction [RT-PCR]), and pri-let-7a miRNA (using real-time RT-PCR) levels. A liposomal preparation of si-DCAMKL-1 was administered into HCT116 xenografts in nude mice, and tumor volumes were measured. A luciferase reporter assay, with a plasmid containing a let-7a-binding site at the 3' untranslated region, was utilized to measure let-7a in cell lines. Cells were isolated from normal mouse intestine using DCAMKL-1 and fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) and subjected to pri-let-7a miRNA analysis.
Results: Expression of DCAMKL-1 was increased in human colorectal cancers. siRNA-mediated blockade of DCAMKL-1 resulted in H tumor xenograft growth arrest, increased pri-let-7a miRNA, a corresponding decrease in luciferase activity, and decreased expression of the oncogene c-Myc. DCAMKL-1(+) cells isolated by FACS demonstrated a significant decrease in pri-let-7a miRNA, compared with more differentiated cells.
Conclusions: DCAMKL-1 is a negative regulator of let-7a miRNA biogenesis in intestinal stem and colorectal cancer cells; it could represent a novel target for anti-cancer stem cell-based strategies.