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miRNA- and cell line-specific constraints on precursor miRNA processing of stably transfected pancreatic cancer and other mammalian cells

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-20, 10:39 authored by Taylor J. Allen-Coyle, Berta Capella Roca 1, Alan Costello, Niall Barron, Joanne Keenan, Martin Clynes, Fiona O' Neill, Finbarr O' Sullivan

Abstract: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate approximately one-third of all human genes. The dysregulation of miRNAs has been implicated in the development of numerous human diseases, including cancers. In our investigation focusing on altering specific miRNA expression in human pancreatic cancer cells, we encountered an interesting finding. While two expression vector designs effectively enhanced miR-708 levels, they were unable to elevate mature forms of miR-29b, -1290, -2467, and -6831 in pancreatic cancer cell lines. This finding was also observed in a panel of other non-pancreatic cancer cell lines, suggesting that miRNA processing efficiency was cell line specific. Using a step-by-step approach in each step of miRNA processing, we ruled out alternative strand selection by the RISC complex and transcriptional interference at the primary miRNA (pri-miRNA) level. DROSHA processing and pri-miRNA export from the nucleus also appeared to be occurring normally. We observed precursor (pre-miRNA) accumulation only in cell lines where mature miRNA expression was not achieved, suggesting that the block was occurring at the pre-miRNA stage. To further confirm this, synthetic pre-miRNA mimics that bypass DICER processing were processed into mature miRNAs in all cases. This study has demonstrated the distinct behaviours of different miRNAs with the same vector in the same cell line, the same miRNA between the two vector designs, and with the same miRNA across different cell lines. We identified a stable vector pre-miRNA processing block. Our findings on the structural and sequence differences between successful and non-successful vector designs could help to inform future chimeric miRNA design strategies and act as a guide to other researchers on the intricate processing dynamics that can impact vector efficiency. Our research confirms the potential of miRNA mimics to surmount some of these complexities.


Synthesis and Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre (SSPC)

Science Foundation Ireland

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International Journal of Molecular Sciences 25(11), 5666



Other Funding information

Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund UK (PCRF)

Also affiliated with

  • Bernal Institute
  • Synthesis and Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre

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  • (3) Good Health and Well-being

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  • School of Engineering

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