Though cholesterol accumulation is an established hallmark of a tumor cell, the relationship between the two is still not clear. Previously, we identified 3-Hydroxy-3-Methylglutaryl-CoA Reductase (HMGCR), Sterol Regulatory Element BindingTranscription Factor 2 (SREBF2), Nuclear Receptor Subfamily 1 Group H Member 3 (NR1H3), and Nuclear Receptor Subfamily 1 Group H Member 2 (NR1H2) as the key cholesterol homeostasis genes involved in colorectal cancer (CRC). In the present study, we aimed to identify microRNAs regulating these key genes in CRC.
miR-18a-5p, miR-144-3p, and miR-663b were selected as the miRNAs targetingNR1H2, HMGCR, and SREBF2, respectively, based on the bioinformatic prediction tools and literature review. Their expression was evaluated in the local and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) cohorts. Receiver Operating Characteristic Curves and Kaplan Meier analysis were performed to elucidate their diagnostic and prognostic potential. Pearson or Spearman’s correlations were used to evaluate the relationship between miRNA-target genes. Protein-protein interaction networks and Gene Ontology analyses were performed to investigate the potential molecular mechanism of these miRNAs.
Deregulated expression of miR-18a-5p, miR-144-3p, and miR-663b was associated with various clinicopathological features. miR-18a-5p exhibited an inverse correlation withNR1H2. miR-18a-5p and miR-144-3p also had a significant direct correlation with miR-33a-5p, an important modulator of cholesterol homeostasis. These miRNAs also exhibited high centrality in the mirna-protein interaction network. miR-144-3p and miR-663b exhibited the potential to be used as diagnostic biomarkers.
miR-18a-5p and miR-144-3p exhibited the potential to modulate cholesterol homeostasis in CRC. miR-663b is an interesting candidate in CRC pathophysiology.