MicroRNAs in Normal and Malignant Lymphocytes

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MicroRNAs in Normal and Malignant Lymphocytes

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Title: MicroRNAs in Normal and Malignant Lymphocytes
Author: Moffett, Howell Franklin
Citation: Moffett, Howell Franklin. 2011. MicroRNAs in Normal and Malignant Lymphocytes. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are 20-22 nucleotide non-coding RNAs that can play important roles in developmental transitions by post-transcriptional regulation of mRNA translation and stability. We profiled miRNA expression in mouse thymocytes, mature T cells, and activated T cells, and identified distinctive patterns of miRNA expression during development, maturation, and activation of T cells. The miR-128 and miR-181 miRNA families are expressed at significantly higher levels in thymocytes. Examining the expression levels of these microRNAs in more detail, we observed that the expression pattern of these microRNA families distinguishes cells committed to lymphoid lineages from cells committed to myeloid lineages during normal mouse hematopoiesis. Extending this work to human malignancies, we determine that high miR-128 expression distinguishes lymphoid precursor derived malignancies from myeloid precursor derived malignancies. Little information is available regarding miRNA expression early after CD8 T cell activation. We demonstrate dynamic miRNA expression during early CD8 T cell activation, including the repression of miR-150, miR-181a, miR-26, miR-29 and miR-30, and the induction of miR-155, miR-31, miR-146, and the miR-17-92 cluster. We show that miR-31 is induced by calcium/Calcineurin signaling during acute CD8 T cell activation, and demonstrate elevated miR-31 expression in regulatory and memory T cell populations. We identify miR-31 targets in primary CD8 T cells and propose a model where miR-31 induction primes CD8 T cells for activation by promoting T cell survival, activation, and proliferation. Activation induced miRNA expression patterns are also found in some human malignancies. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is typically thought to be a disease of resting lymphocytes. However, we demonstrate an activated B cell miRNA expression signature in CLL. Similarities in miRNA expression between activated B cells and CLL cells include high expression of miR-34a, miR-155, and miR-342-3p and low expression of miR-103, miR-181a and miR-181b. Additionally, we show that decreased levels of miR-29c and miR-223 in CLL are negative prognostic markers associated with shorter time to first therapy. These data indicate an activated B cell status for CLL cells and suggest that the expression level of individual miRNAs may predict clinical course in CLL.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:10039805
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