Identification of micro-RNAs targeting genes of PI3K/AKT pathway in ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death for females due to lack of specific early detection method. It is of great interest to find molecular-based biomarkers which are sensitive and specific to ovarian cancer for early diagnosis, prognosis and therapeutics. miRNAs have been proposed to be potential biomarkers that could be used in cancer prevention and therapeutics. The current study analyzed the miRNA and mRNA expression data extracted from the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database. Using simple linear regression and multiple regression models, we found 71 miRNA-mRNA pairs which were negatively associated between 56 miRNAs and 24 genes of PI3K/AKT pathway. Among these miRNA and mRNA target pairs, 9 of them were in agreement with the predictions from the most commonly used target prediction programs including miRGen, miRDB, miRTarbase and miR2Disease. These shared miRNA-mRNA pairs were considered to be the most potential genes that were involved in ovarian cancer. Furthermore, 4 of the 9 target genes encode cell cycle or apoptosis related proteins including Cyclin D1, p21, FOXO1 and Bcl2, suggesting that their regulator miRNAs including miR-16, miR-96 and miR-21 most likely played important roles in promoting tumor growth through dysregulated cell cycle or apoptosis. miR-96 was also found to directly target IRS-1. In addition, the results showed that miR-17 and miR-9 may be involved in ovarian cancer through targeting JAK1. This study might provide evidence for using miRNA or miRNA profile as biomarker.