Background: MicroRNAs are small non-coding RNA molecules, which regulate central mechanisms of tumorigenesis. In colorectal tumours, the combination of gain of 8q and 13q is one of the major factors associated with colorectal adenoma to adenocarcinoma progression. Functional studies on the miR-17-92 cluster localised on 13q31 have shown that its transcription is activated by c-myc, located on 8q, and that it has oncogenic activities. We investigated the contribution of the miR-17-92 cluster during colorectal adenoma to adenocarcinoma progression.
Methods: Expression levels of the miR-17-92 cluster were determined in 55 colorectal tumours and in 10 controls by real-time RT-PCR. Messenger RNA c-myc expression was also determined by real-time RT-PCR in 48 tumours with array comparative genomic hybridisation (aCGH) data available.
Results: From the six members of the miR-17-92 cluster, all except miR-18a, showed significant increased expression in colorectal tumours with miR-17-92 locus gain compared with tumours without miR-17-92 locus gain. Unsupervised cluster analysis clustered the tumours based on the presence of miR-17-92 locus gain. Significant correlation between the expression of c-myc and the six miRNAs was also found.
Conclusion: Increased expression of miR-17-92 cluster during colorectal adenoma to adenocarcinoma progression is associated to DNA copy number gain of miR17-92 locus on 13q31 and c-myc expression.