Epigenetic regulation of miR-34b and miR-129 expression in gastric cancer

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MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs that play fundamental roles in diverse biological and pathological processes by targeting the expression of specific genes. Here, we identified 38 methylation-associated miRNAs, the expression of which could be epigenetically restored by cotreatment with 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine and trichostatin A. Among these 38 miRNAs, we further analyzed miR-34b, miR-127-3p, miR-129-3p and miR-409 because CpG islands are predicted adjacent to them. The methylation-silenced expression of these miRNAs could be reactivated in gastric cancer cells by treatment with demethylating drugs in a time-dependent manner. Analysis of the methylation status of these miRNAs showed that the upstream CpG-rich regions of mir-34b and mir-129-2 are frequently methylated in gastric cancer tissues compared to adjacent normal tissues, and their methylation status correlated inversely with their expression patterns. The expression of miR-34b and miR-129-3p was downregulated by DNA hypermethylation in primary gastric cancers, and the low expression was associated with poor clinicopathological features. In summary, our study shows that tumor-specific methylation silences miR-34b and miR-129 in gastric cancer cells.

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