Anti-leukemic activity of microRNA-26a in a chronic lymphocytic leukemia mouse model

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Dysregulation of microRNAs (miRNAs) plays an important role in the pathogenesis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). The Eμ-TCL1 transgenic mouse develops a form of leukemia that is similar to the aggressive type of human B-CLL, and this valuable model has been widely used for testing novel therapeutic approaches. Here, we adopted this model to investigate the potential effects of miR-26a, miR-130an and antimiR-155 in CLL therapy. Improved delivery of miRNA molecules into CLL cells was obtained by developing a novel system based on lipid nanoparticles conjugated with an anti-CD38 monoclonal antibody. This methodology has proven to be highly effective in delivering miRNA molecules into leukemic cells. Short- and long-term experiments showed that miR-26a, miR-130a and anti-miR-155 increased apoptosis after in vitro and in vivo treatment. Of this miRNA panel, miR-26a was the most effective in reducing leukemic cell expansion. Following long-term treatment, apoptosis was readily detectable by analyzing cleavage of PARP and caspase-7. These effects could be directly attributed to miR-26a, as confirmed by significant downregulation of its proven targets, namely cyclin-dependent kinase 6 and Mcl1. The results of this study are relevant to two distinct areas. The first is related to the design of a technical strategy and to the selection of CD38 as a molecular target on CLL cells, both consenting efficient and specific intracellular transfer of miRNA. The original scientific finding inferred from the above approach is that miR-26a can elicit in vivo anti-leukemic activities mediated by increased apoptosis.

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