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Expression of Wnt-signaling pathway genes and their associations with miRNAs in colorectal cancer

The Wnt-signaling pathway functions in regulating cell growth and thus is involved in the carcinogenic process of several cancers, including colorectal cancer. We tested the hypothesis that multiple genes in this signaling pathway are dysregulated and that miRNAs are associated with these dysregulated genes. We used data from 217 colorectal cancer (CRC) cases to evaluate differences in Wnt-signaling pathway gene expression between paired CRC and normal mucosa and identify miRNAs that are associated with these genes. Gene expression data from RNA-Seq and miRNA expression data from Agilent Human miRNA Microarray V19.0 were analyzed. We focused on genes most strongly associated with CRC (fold change (FC) of >1.5 or <0.67) and that were statistically significant after adjustment for multiple comparisons. Of the 138 Wnt-signaling pathway genes examined, 27 were significantly down-regulated (FC<0.67) and 32 genes were significantly up-regulated (FC>1.50) after adjusting for multiple comparisons. Thirteen of the 66 Wnt-signaling genes that were differentially expressed in CRC tumors were associated with differential expression of miRNAs. A total of 93 miRNA:mRNA associations were detected for these 13 genes. Of these 93 associations, 36 miRNA seed-region matches were observed, suggesting that miRNAs have both direct and indirect effects on Wnt-signaling pathway genes. In summary, our data supports the hypothesis that the Wnt-signaling pathway is dysregulated in CRC and suggest that miRNAs may importantly influence that dysregulation.

Authors: Slattery ML; Mullany LE; Sakoda LC; Samowitz WS; Wolff RK; Stevens JR; Herrick JS

Oncotarget. 2018 Jan 19;9(5):6075-6085. Epub 2017-12-23.

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