The high degree of conservation in microRNA from Caenorhabditis elegans to humans has enabled relatively rapid implementation of findings in model systems to the clinic. The convergence of the capacity for genomic screening being implemented in the prevailing precision medicine initiative and the capabilities of microRNA to address these changes holds significant promise. However, prostate, ovarian and breast cancers are heterogeneous and face issues of evolving therapeutic resistance. The transforming growth factor-beta (TGFβ) signaling axis plays an important role in the progression of these cancers by regulating microRNAs. Reciprocally, microRNAs regulate TGFβ actions during cancer progression. One must consider the expression of miRNA in the tumor microenvironment a source of biomarkers of disease progression and a viable target for therapeutic targeting. The differential expression pattern of microRNAs in health and disease, therapeutic response and resistance has resulted in its application as robust biomarkers. With two microRNA mimetics in ongoing restorative clinical trials, the paradigm for future clinical studies rests on the current observational trials to validate microRNA markers of disease progression. Some of today’s biomarkers can be translated to the next generation of microRNA-based therapies.
Bethany Smith, Priyanka Agarwal, and Neil A Bhowmick
Rajeev Mishra, Subhash Haldar, Surabhi Suchanti, and Neil A Bhowmick
Genomic changes that drive cancer initiation and progression contribute to the co-evolution of the adjacent stroma. The nature of the stromal reprogramming involves differential DNA methylation patterns and levels that change in response to the tumor and systemic therapeutic intervention. Epigenetic reprogramming in carcinoma-associated fibroblasts are robust biomarkers for cancer progression and have a transcriptional impact that support cancer epithelial progression in a paracrine manner. For prostate cancer, promoter hypermethylation and silencing of the RasGAP, RASAL3 that resulted in the activation of Ras signaling in carcinoma-associated fibroblasts. Stromal Ras activity initiated a process of macropinocytosis that provided prostate cancer epithelia with abundant glutamine for metabolic conversion to fuel its proliferation and a signal to transdifferentiate into a neuroendocrine phenotype. This epigenetic oncogenic metabolic/signaling axis seemed to be further potentiated by androgen receptor signaling antagonists and contributed to therapeutic resistance. Intervention of stromal signaling may complement conventional therapies targeting the cancer cell.