Differences in certain miRNAs may predispose some individuals to developing cancer, according to researchers from Kimmel Cancer Center, Ohio State University Medical Center, and Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
To see if miRNAs could affect cancer risk, the scientists compared the mouse chromosome locations of genes known to affect cancer susceptibility in eight different types of tumors to the locations of mouse miRNAs.
The team showed that overall miRNAs were 1.5 times more likely to be in susceptibility regions than in nonsusceptibility regions, suggesting that miRNAs could be a new family of cancer tumor susceptibility genes.
The researchers looked at which mouse strains were cancer-resistant and which were susceptible to cancer, uncovering seven miRNAs that had genetic sequence differences between the two groups. Five of these miRNAs had changes within their predicted promoter regions.
“We have hypothesized that changes in the promoter regions could affect the levels of miRNAs, which could influence a person’s lifetime risk of cancer,” says Linda Siracusa, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Jefferson.
The results are reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.