Retinoblastoma (RB) is a malignant tumor of the retina seen in children, and potential non invasive biomarkers are in need for rapid diagnosis and for prognosticating the therapy. This study was undertaken to identify the differentially expressed miRNAs in the serum of children with RB in comparison with the normal age matched serum, to analyze its concurrence with the existing RB tumor miRNA profile, to identify its novel gene targets specific to RB, and to study the expression of a few of the identified oncogenic miRNAs in the advanced stage primary RB patient's serum sample. MiRNA profiling was performed on 14 pooled serum from children with advanced RB and 14 normal age matched serum samples, wherein 21 miRNAs were found to be upregulated (fold change ≤ -2.0, P ≤ 0.05) and 24 to be downregulated (fold change ≥ +2.0, P ≤ 0.05). Furthermore, intersection of 59 significantly deregulated miRNAs identified from RB tumor profiles with that of miRNAs detected in serum profile revealed that 33 miRNAs had followed a similar deregulation pattern in RB serum. Later we validated a few of the miRNAs (miRNA 17-92) identified by microarray in the RB patient serum samples (n = 20) by using qRT-PCR. Expression of the oncogenic miRNAs, miR-17, miR-18a, and miR-20a by qRT-PCR was significant in the serum samples exploring the potential of serum miRNAs identification as noninvasive diagnosis. Moreover, from miRNA gene target prediction, key regulatory genes of cell proliferation, apoptosis, and positive and negative regulatory networks involved in RB progression were identified in the gene expression profile of RB tumors. Therefore, these identified miRNAs and their corresponding target genes could give insights on potential biomarkers and key events involved in the RB pathway.
Keywords: bioinformatics tools; biomarkers; micro RNA; retinoblastoma.