Targeting the RAS/MAPK pathway with miR-181a in acute myeloid leukemia.

Huang X, Schwind S, Santhanam R, Eisfeld AK, Chiang CL, Lankenau M, Yu B, Hoellerbauer P, Jin Y, Tarighat SS, Khalife J, Walker A, Perrotti D, Bloomfield CD, Wang H, Lee RJ, Lee LJ, Marcucci G
Oncotarget 7 59273-59286 09/13/2016


Deregulation of microRNAs' expression frequently occurs in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Lower miR-181a expression is associated with worse outcomes, but the exact mechanisms by which miR-181a mediates this effect remain elusive. Aberrant activation of the RAS pathway contributes to myeloid leukemogenesis. Here, we report that miR-181a directly binds to 3'-untranslated regions (UTRs); downregulates KRAS, NRAS and MAPK1; and decreases AML growth. The delivery of miR-181a mimics to target AML cells using transferrin-targeting lipopolyplex nanoparticles (NP) increased mature miR-181a; downregulated KRAS, NRAS and MAPK1; and resulted in decreased phosphorylation of the downstream RAS effectors. NP-mediated upregulation of miR-181a led to reduced proliferation, impaired colony formation and increased sensitivity to chemotherapy. Ectopic expression of KRAS, NRAS and MAPK1 attenuated the anti-leukemic activity of miR-181a mimics, thereby validating the relevance of the deregulated miR-181a-RAS network in AML. Finally, treatment with miR-181a-NP in a murine AML model resulted in longer survival compared to mice treated with scramble-NP control. These data support that targeting the RAS-MAPK-pathway by miR-181a mimics represents a novel promising therapeutic approach for AML and possibly for other RAS-driven cancers.

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