MiR-7e-5p downregulation promotes transformation of low-grade follicular lymphoma to aggressive lymphoma by modulating an immunosuppressive stroma through the upregulation of FasL in M1 macrophages


J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2020 Nov 9;39(1):237. doi: 10.1186/s13046-020-01747-z.


BACKGROUND: In follicular lymphoma (FL), histologic transformation to high-grade FL and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is a critical adverse step in disease progression. Activation of the oncogene c-MYC and tumor microenvironment remodeling account for FL progression. A panel of microRNA (miRNA) was downregulated in transformed FL (tFL).

METHODS: Differentially expressed miRNAs were systematically compared in 11 lymph nodes from patients at different stages of disease. Expression of miR-7e-5p was analyzed in 46 B-cell lymphomas, including 30 FL tissues and 16 DLBCL tissues. In FL cells, transcriptional regulation of the oncogene c-MYC on its target miR-7e-5p was revealed by Chromatin Immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assay. Exosome, carrying differentially expressed miR-7e-5p was isolated and visualized by transmission electron microscope and fluorescence tracing. The effect of miR-7e-5p on recipient macrophage was determined by target gene quantification, flow cytometry, and TUNEL method in a cocultured system with miR-7e-5p-mimics or inhibitors treatment. Expression of miR-7e-5p targets, macrophage proportions, and clinical parameters were included for correlation analysis.

RESULTS: We determined that downregulation of miR-7e-5p, driven by c-MYC overexpression, was associated with poorer prognosis in FL patients. The decreased expression of miR-7e-5p in lymphoma cells led to a reduced exosomal transfer to surrounding macrophages. As a result, the target gene of miR-7e-5p, Fas ligand (FasL), was upregulated and activated the caspase signaling, which led to the apoptosis of M1 macrophages in tumor stroma. Finally, in transformed FL tissues, overexpression of FasL and activation of caspase proteins was detected in tumor stromal macrophages. Downregulation of miR-7e-5p was associated with poorer clinical outcomes.

CONCLUSION: Downregulation of exosomal miR-7e-5p induces stromal M1 macrophage apoptosis, which leads to immunosurveillance and transformation of FL.