The role of microRNAs in brain cancer is still naive. Some act as oncogene and others as tumor suppressors. Discovery of efficient biomarkers is mandatory to debate that aggressive disease. Bioinformatically selected microRNAs and their targets were investigated to evaluate their putative signature as diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers in primary glioblastoma multiforme. Expression of a panel of seven microRNAs (hsa-miR-34a, hsa-miR-16, hsa-miR-17, hsa-miR-21, hsa-miR-221, hsa-miR-326, and hsa-miR-375) and seven target genes ( E2F3, PI3KCA, TOM34, WNT5A, PDCD4, DFFA, and EGFR) in 43 glioblastoma multiforme specimens were profiled compared to non-cancer tissues via quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Immunohistochemistry staining for three proteins (VEGFA, BAX, and BCL2) was performed. Gene enrichment analysis identified the biological regulatory functions of the gene panel in glioma pathway. MGMT ( O-6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase) promoter methylation was analyzed for molecular subtyping of tumor specimens. Our data demonstrated a significant upregulation of five microRNAs (hsa-miR-16, hsa-miR-17, hsa-miR-21, hsa-miR-221, and hsa-miR-375), three genes ( E2F3, PI3KCA, and Wnt5a), two proteins (VEGFA and BCL2), and downregulation of hsa-miR-34a and three other genes ( DFFA, PDCD4, and EGFR) in brain cancer tissues. Receiver operating characteristic analysis revealed that miR-34a (area under the curve = 0.927) and miR-17 (area under the curve = 0.900) had the highest diagnostic performance, followed by miR-221 (area under the curve = 0.845), miR-21 (area under the curve = 0.836), WNT5A (area under the curve = 0.809), PDCD4 (area under the curve = 0.809), and PI3KCA (area under the curve = 0.800). MGMT promoter methylation status was associated with high miR-221 levels. Moreover, patients with VEGFA overexpression and downregulation of TOM34 and BAX had poor overall survival. Nevertheless, miR-17, miR-221, and miR-326 downregulation were significantly associated with high recurrence rate. Multivariate analysis by hierarchical clustering classified patients into four distinct groups based on gene panel signature. In conclusion, the explored microRNA-target dysregulation could pave the road toward developing potential therapeutic strategies for glioblastoma multiforme. Future translational and functional studies are highly recommended to better understand the complex bio-molecular signature of this difficult-to-treat tumor.
Keywords: Glioblastoma; immunohistochemistry; methylation; microRNAs; polymerase chain reaction.