Investigating potential molecular mechanisms of serum exosomal miRNAs in colorectal cancer based on bioinformatics analysis

Colorectal Cancer

Medicine (Baltimore). 2020 Sep 11;99(37):e22199. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000022199.


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the most common malignant gastrointestinal tumor worldwide. Serum exosomal microRNAs (miRNAs) play a critical role in tumor progression and metastasis. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms are poorly understood.The miRNAs expression profile (GSE39833) was downloaded from Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) database. GEO2R was applied to screen the differentially expressed miRNAs (DEmiRNAs) between healthy and CRC serum exosome samples. The target genes of DEmiRNAs

were predicted by starBase v3.0 online tool. The gene ontology (GO) and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genomes pathway (KEGG) enrichment analysis were performed using the Database for Annotation, Visualization and Integrated Discovery (DAVID) online tool. The protein-protein interaction (PPI) network was established by the Search Tool for the Retrieval of Interacting Genes (STRING) visualized using Cytoscape software. Molecular Complex Detection (MCODE) and cytohubba plug-in were used to screen hub genes and gene modules.In total, 102 DEmiRNAs were identified including 67 upregulated and 35 downregulated DEmiRNAs, and 1437 target genes were predicted. GO analysis showed target genes of upregulated DEmiRNAs were significantly enriched in transcription regulation, protein binding, and ubiquitin protein ligase activity. While the target genes of downregulated DEmiRNAs were mainly involved in transcription from RNA polymerase II promoter, SMAD binding, and DNA binding. The KEGG pathway enrichment analyses showed target genes of upregulated DEmiRNAs were significantly enriched in proteoglycans in cancer, microRNAs in cancer, and phosphatidylinositol-3 kinases/Akt (PI3K-Akt) signaling pathway, while target genes of downregulated DEmiRNAs were mainly enriched in transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) signaling pathway and proteoglycans in cancer. The genes of the top 3 modules were mainly enriched in ubiquitin mediated proteolysis, spliceosome, and mRNA surveillance pathway. According to the cytohubba plugin, 37 hub genes were selected, and 4 hub genes including phosphoinositide-3-kinase regulatory subunit 1 (PIK3R1), SRC, cell division cycle 42 (CDC42), E1A binding protein p300 (EP300) were identified by combining 8 ranked methods of cytohubba.The study provides a comprehensive analysis of exosomal DEmiRNAs and target genes regulatory network in CRC, which can better understand the roles of exosomal miRNAs in the development of CRC. However, these findings require further experimental validation in future studies.