The Functional Role of Microrna 15a/16-1 as Tumor Suppressor Genes in Multiple Myeloma.

Moshe Gatt, Margaret Ebert, Mala Mani, Yunyu Zhang, Daniel Carrasco, Jui Dutta, Sophia Adamia, Nikhil Munshi, Stephane Minvielle, Herve Avet-Loiseau, Yu-Tzu Tai, Kenneth Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Multiple Myeloma (MM), a cancer of plasma cells is characterized by frequent chromosomal alterations. Deletion of chromosome 13, especially band 13q14, is commonly observed in early stages of MM, suggesting the presence of tumor suppressor genes within this region. When studied in the context of CLL, the miR 15a and 16-1 cluster was associated with a distinct miR signature and clinical outcome. Over-expression of miR16 caused induction of apoptosis and downregulation of the anti apoptotic gene BCL2 in a megakaryocytic leukemia cell line and induced growth arrest in MM cells. Nonetheless, being lost in CLL, MM, MCL and LPL, their functional role has not been studied using a loss-of-function approach in any of these lymphoid malignancies. Here, we describe the generation of an in vivo system for the long term, stable knockdown of miR 15a/ 16-1 expression in myeloma cells to recapitulate the conditions seen in chromosome 13q14 deleted MM.

Using lentiviral vectors to stably express a competitive sponge miR16 inhibitor we set up a system to functionally validate the role of microRNA 15a/16-1 cluster. Pure populations of lentivirally transduced MM cell lines were sorted by flow cytometry using GFP marker. Decreased miRs 15a and 16 expression levels were assessed by Northern blot and R-luciferase reporter system. Cell growth rate was measured using trypan blue counting, and thymidine incorporation. Cell cycle analysis was measured by flow cytometry after staining with PI. Intracellular signal modulation was demonstrated by Western blotting. RNA from MM cell lines expressing the control sponge or sponge16 were hybridized on an Affymetrix U133A 2.0 array chip, and validated using quantitative real time PCR. Xenograft murine models were performed using the stable MM cell lines injected into 6-week old NOD.CB17-PrkdcSCID/J irradiated mice.

Selected stable miR knockdown MM cell lines exhibited significantly reduced expression of miRs15a/16-1 as assessd by both by mRNA levels and miR luciferase reporter assays. The knockdown cells showed a significant increase in growth rates (1.5-2 fold) compared to control cells, as measured by viable cell counts and proliferation by thymidine incorporation in vitro. Importantly, miR16 inhibition decreased animal survival in a xenograft model of MM by increasing tumor load, invasiveness and host angiogenesis. To further delineate the role of miR15a/16 in MM and to gain additional insight into the possible target genes regulated by this cluster, we performed gene expression-profiling analysis in controls and miR16 deficient MMS1 and RPMI cell lines. Since our sponge system produces downregulation of the miRs, we focused on the upregulated probes. Expression profiling analysis of miR16 deficient cells identified a surprisingly large number of downstream target-genes such as FGFR1, PI3KCa, MDM4, VEGFa, as well as secondary affected genes such as JUN and Jag1. These results were verified both at the mRNA level and the protein level, as well as in other MM cell lines. Moreover, we were able to show that these knockdown cells were partially addicted to some of these pathways using specific drug inhibitors. We further validated designated genes as direct miR16 targets by showing binding sites within the conserved 3' UTR and also within the mRNA coding region, thus indicating that the miRs may have many more possible targets than anticipated by conventional prediction methods.

Using this loss-of-function system, which mimics the pleiotropic chronic effects of microRNA loss at the 13q chromosomal deletion, provides a valuable tool to investigate their function as tumor suppressor genes in MM pathogenesis, affecting multiple targets, and may represent a novel potential for therapeutic targeting in MM and other lymphoid malignancies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1963
Number of pages1
StatePublished - 20 Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes


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