Discovery of new microRNAs by small RNAome deep sequencing in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) relevant to acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in children are hypothesized to be largely unknown as most miRNAs have been identified in non-leukemic tissues. In order to discover these miRNAs, we applied high-throughput sequencing to pooled fractions of leukemic cells obtained from 89 pediatric cases covering seven well-defined genetic types of ALL and normal hematopoietic cells. This resulted into 78 million small RNA reads representing 554 known, 28 novel and 431 candidate novel miR genes. In all, 153 known, 16 novel and 170 candidate novel mature miRNAs and miRNA-star strands were only expressed in ALL, whereas 140 known, 2 novel and 82 candidate novel mature miRNAs and miRNA-star strands were unique to normal hematopoietic cells. Stem-loop reverse transcriptase (RT)-quantitative PCR analyses confirmed the differential expression of selected mature miRNAs in ALL types and normal cells. Expression of 14 new miRNAs inversely correlated with expression of predicted target genes (-0.49≤Spearman's correlation coefficients (Rs)≤-0.27, P≤0.05); among others, low levels of novel sol-miR-23 associated with high levels of its predicted (antiapoptotic) target BCL2 (B-cell lymphoma 2) in precursor B-ALL (Rs-0.36, P=0.007). The identification of >1000 miR genes expressed in different types of ALL forms a comprehensive repository for further functional studies that address the role of miRNAs in the biology of ALL.