Down-regulation of specific miRNAs enhances the expression of the gene Smoothened and contributes to T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma development

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Inappropriate activation of the GLI/hedgehog (GLI/Hh) signalling occurs in several human cancers, including haematological neoplasms. However, little is known about its relevance in precursor T-cell lymphoblastic lymphomas (T-LBL) development. Moreover, the mechanisms whereby GLI/Hh signalling is activated in haematological malignancies are not fully clear. Here, we show that the gene Smoothened (SMO), the only non-redundant gene of this pathway, is up-regulated in mouse and human T-LBL. Interestingly, down-regulation of micro-RNAs mmu-miR-30a and mmu-miR-141 as well as hsa-miR-193b clearly contributes to enhance the expression of this gene in mouse and human lymphomas and, subsequently, to activate the GLI/Hh signalling. Activation of the GLI/Hh signalling in T-LBL promotes cell survival and proliferation, since inhibition of the pathway using short-hairpin-RNA-mediated SMO knockdown, or cyclopamine as a specific antagonist, significantly reduces these cellular processes. These findings suggest that sustained SMO up-regulation may contribute to T-LBL development and advocate the use of specific SMO inhibitors or microRNAs-based therapies as an attractive possibility to treat an important subset of T-LBL.

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