A Perspective on Breast Cancer Malignant Progression: From Cancer Stem Cell Intra Tumor Heterogeneity to Metastasis-Initiating Cells
The regulatory role of micro-RNAs (miRNAs) in hematopoietic development is increasingly appreciated. Reverse genetics strategies based on the targeted disruption of miRNAs offer a powerful tool to study miRNA functions in mammalian hematopoiesis. The miR-144/451 cluster comprises two miRNAs coexpressed from a common precursor transcript in an erythroid-specific manner. To decipher the contribution of each miRNA of the cluster in mammalian erythropoiesis, we developed a strategy for stable in vivo individual and combinatorial miRNA inhibition. We developed decoy target sequences for each miRNA expressed by lentiviral vectors marked with distinct fluorescent proteins and used them to probe the functions of miR-144 and miR-451 in the murine hematopoietic system in a competitive repopulation setting. Murine hematopoietic chimeras expressing lentiviral-encoded inhibitory sequences specific for miR-144 or miR-451 exhibited markedly reduced Ter119(+) erythroblast counts, with the combined knockdown showing additive effect. These chimeras showed abnormal patterns of erythroid differentiation primarily affecting the proerythroblast to basophilic erythroblast transition, coinciding with the stage where expression of the miRNA cluster is dramatically induced and posttranscriptional gene regulation becomes prominent. These results reveal a role for the miR-144/451 locus in mammalian erythropoiesis and provide the first evidence of functional cooperativity between clustered miRNAs in the hematopoietic system. The strategy described herein will prove useful in functional miRNA studies in mammalian hematopoietic stem cells.