Research Papers:

A radiosensitivity MiRNA signature validated by the TCGA database for head and neck squamous cell carcinomas

Ning Liu, Rebecca J. Boohaker, Chunling Jiang, James R. Boohaker and Bo Xu _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:34649-34657. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.5299

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Ning Liu1,2,*, Rebecca J. Boohaker1,*, Chunling Jiang3,4,*, James R. Boohaker5, Bo Xu1,6

1Department of Oncology, Southern Research Institute, Birmingham, AL 35205, USA

2Department of Gastric Cancer Surgery, Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital, National Clinical Research Center for Cancer, Key Laboratory of Cancer Prevention and Therapy, Tianjin 300060, China

3Nanchang University Graduate School, Nanchang 330047, China

4Department of Radiation Oncology, Jiangxi Cancer Hospital, Nanchang 330029, China

5Department of Economics, American University, Washington, DC 20016, USA

6Cancer Cell Biology Program, Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35205, USA

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Bo Xu, e-mail: [email protected], e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: miRNA, radiosensitivity, ATM

Received: January 29, 2015     Accepted: September 24, 2015     Published: October 06, 2015


MicroRNA, a class of small non-coding RNAs, play critical roles in the cellular response to DNA damage induced by ionizing irradiation (IR). Growing evidence shows alteration of miRNAs, in response to radiation, controls cellular radiosensitivity in DNA damage response pathways. However, it is less clear about the clinical relevance of miRNA regulation in radiosensitivity. Using an in vitro system, we conducted microarray to identify a miRNA signature to assess radiosensitivity. The data were validated by analyzing available Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC) samples in the cancer genome atlas (TCGA) database. A total of 27 miRNAs showed differential alteration in response to IR in an Ataxia-Telangiectasia Mutated (ATM) kinase-dependent manner. We validated the list and identified a five miRNA signature that can predict radiation responsiveness in HNSCC. Furthermore, we found that the expression level of ATM in these patients was correlated with the radiation responsiveness. Together, we demonstrate the feasibility of using a miRNA signature to predict the clinical responsiveness of HNSCC radiotherapy.

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