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The PI3K/AKT Signaling Pathway: associations of miRNAs with dysregulated gene expression in colorectal cancer

The PI3K/AKT-signaling pathway is one of the most frequently activated signal-transduction pathways in cancer. We examined how dysregulated gene expression is associated with miRNA expression in this pathway in colorectal cancer (CRC). We used data from 217 CRC cases to evaluate differential pathway gene expression between paired carcinoma 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 associated with CRC (fold change (FC) of >1.5 or <0.67) that were statistically significant after adjustment for multiple comparisons. Of the 304 genes evaluated, 76 had a FC of <0.67, and 57 had a FC of >1.50; 47 of these genes were associated with miRNA differential expression. There were 145 mRNA:miRNA seed-region matches of which 26 were inversely associated suggesting a greater likelihood of a direct association. Most miRNA:mRNA associations were with factors that stimulated the pathway. For instance, both IL6R and PDGFRA had inverse seed-region matches with seven miRNAs, suggesting that these miRNAs have a direct effect on these genes and may be key elements in activation of the pathway. Other miRNA:mRNA associations with similar impact on the pathway were miR-203a with ITGA4, miR-6071 with ITGAV, and miR-375 with THBS2, all genes involved in extracellular matrix function that activate PI3Ks. Gene expression in the PI3K/Akt-signaling pathway is dysregulated in CRC. MiRNAs were associated with many of these dysregulated genes either directly or in an indirect manner.

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

Mol Carcinog. 2017 Oct 25.

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