The biological significance of micro (mi)RNAs has traditionally been evaluated according to their RNA expression levels based on the assumption that miRNAs recognize and regulate their targets in an unvarying fashion. Here we show that a fraction of mature miRNAs including miR-17-5p, -21-5p, and -200c-3p and let-7a-5p harbor methyl marks that potentially alter their stability and target recognition. Importantly, methylation of these miRNAs was significantly increased in cancer tissues as compared to paired normal tissues. Furthermore, miR-17-5p methylation level in serum samples distinguished early pancreatic cancer patients from healthy controls with extremely high sensitivity and specificity. These findings provide a basis for diagnostic strategies for early-stage cancer and add a dimension to our understanding of miRNA biology.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)