Selective targeting of KRAS-mutant cells by miR-126 through repression of multiple genes essential for the survival of KRAS-mutant cells.

PMID 25245095


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate the expression of hundreds of genes. However, identifying the critical targets within a miRNA-regulated gene network is challenging. One approach is to identify miRNAs that exert a context-dependent effect, followed by expression profiling to determine how specific targets contribute to this selective effect. In this study, we performed miRNA mimic screens in isogenic KRAS-Wild-type (WT) and KRAS-Mutant colorectal cancer (CRC) cell lines to identify miRNAs selectively targeting KRAS-Mutant cells. One of the miRNAs we identified as a selective inhibitor of the survival of multiple KRAS-Mutant CRC lines was miR-126. In KRAS-Mutant cells, miR-126 over-expression increased the G1 compartment, inhibited clonogenicity and tumorigenicity, while exerting no effect on KRAS-WT cells. Unexpectedly, the miR-126-regulated transcriptome of KRAS-WT and KRAS-Mutant cells showed no significant differences. However, by analyzing the overlap between miR-126 targets with the synthetic lethal genes identified by RNAi in KRAS-Mutant cells, we identified and validated a subset of miR-126-regulated genes selectively required for the survival and clonogenicity of KRAS-Mutant cells. Our strategy therefore identified critical target genes within the miR-126-regulated gene network. We propose that the selective effect of miR-126 on KRAS-Mutant cells could be utilized for the development of targeted therapy for KRAS mutant tumors.