New RNA Classes Linked With Cancer Biomarkers

A pair of large RNA classes associated with a protein that may play a role in cancer progression.

A pair of large RNA classes associated with a protein that may play a role in cancer progression.

Two new classes of RNAs have been found to be closely associated with a protein that is a prognostic biomarker for breast cancer and may be involved in prostate cancer progression, a recent study found.

Published in the June issue of the journal RNA, the study examined how human Y-box binding protein 1 (YB-1) levels correlate with medication resistance and poor patient outcomes across several types of cancer. The YB-1 biomarker is closely associated with a large and diverse class of RNAs, according to the study.

"Many small RNAs known as microRNAs already have been shown to correlate with different grades of prostate cancer and could potentially serve as biomarkers for diagnosis and treatment," senior investigator Bino John, PhD, said in a press release. "We did this study after computer models led us to hypothesize that there was a connection between YB-1 and microRNAs. What started out as a curiosity-driven experiment ended up being an exhilarating treasure hunt over four years, culminating in the discovery of two big molecular finds from human cells."

Among the abundant RNAs that originated from the DNA region of the Dicer1 gene, was an RNA that controls multiple genes involved in cancer progression. Additionally, the researchers found YB-1 is linked with a variety of microRNAs.

The study noted that the association between YB-1 and thousands of RNAs was a surprise finding. RNAs were grouped into YB-1 associated short non-coding RNAs (shyRNAs) and smaller, processed counterpart YB-1 associated small RNAs.

"We conducted functional assays on one of these RNAs, and found that it had the ability to suppress cancer cell growth when it interacted with YB-1," co-senior author Donald B. DeFranco, PhD, said in a press release. "More work must be done to determine how these shyRNAs interact to influence cancer progression and perhaps influence other diseases."