Characterization of the Merkel Cell Carcinoma miRNome

J Skin Cancer. 2014;2014:289548. doi: 10.1155/2014/289548. Epub 2014 Feb 3.


MicroRNAs have been implicated in various skin cancers, including melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma; however, the expression of microRNAs and their role in Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) have yet to be explored in depth. To identify microRNAs specific to MCC (MCC-miRs), next-generation sequencing (NGS) of small RNA libraries was performed on different tissue samples including MCCs, other cutaneous tumors, and normal skin. Comparison of the profiles identified several microRNAs upregulated and downregulated in MCC. For validation, their expression was measured via qRT-PCR in a larger group of MCC and in a comparison group of non-MCC cutaneous tumors and normal skin. Eight microRNAs were upregulated in MCC: miR-502-3p, miR-9, miR-7, miR-340, miR-182, miR-190b, miR-873, and miR-183. Three microRNAs were downregulated: miR-3170, miR-125b, and miR-374c. Many of these MCC-miRs, the miR-183/182/96a cistron in particular, have connections to tumorigenic pathways implicated in MCC pathogenesis. In situ hybridization confirmed that the highly expressed MCC-miR, miR-182, is localized within tumor cells. Furthermore, NGS and qRT-PCR reveal that several of these MCC-miRs are highly expressed in the patient-derived MCC cell line, MS-1. These data indicate that we have identified a set of MCC-miRs with important implications for MCC research.