To get insights on the metastatic process of human neuroblastoma (NB), the miRNA expression profile of bone marrow (BM)-infiltrating cells has been determined and compared to that of primary tumors.Twenty-two BM-infiltrating cells, 22 primary tumors, and 4 paired samples from patients with metastatic NB aged > 12 months were analyzed for the expression of 670 miRNAs by stem-loop RT-qPCR. The miRNAs whose expression was significantly different were subjected to selection criteria, and 20 selected miRNAs were tested in 10 additional BM-infiltrating cells and primary tumors. Among the miRNAs confirmed to be differentially expressed, miR-659-3p was further analyzed. Transfection of miR-659-3p mimic and inhibitor demonstrated the specific suppression and over-expression, respectively, of the miR-659-3p target gene CNOT1, a regulator of transcription of genes containing AU-rich element (ARE) sequence. Among the ARE-containing genes, miR-659-3p mimic and inhibitor specifically modified the expression of AKT3, BCL2, CYR61 and THSB2, belonging to the focal adhesion pathway. Most importantly, in BM-infiltrating cells CNOT1 expression was significantly higher, and that of AKT3, BCL2, THSB2 and CYR61 was significantly lower than in primary tumors. Thus, our study suggests a role of the focal adhesion pathway, regulated by miR-659-3p through CNOT1, in the human NB metastatic process.
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