Osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone malignancy that affects adolescents. Around 30% of patients with localized osteosarcoma and 70% of patients with metastasis will experience treatment failure within 5 years of diagnosis. The complex biology of osteosarcoma and astounding genetic heterogeneity has made it challenging to identify effective new gene targets and therapeutic agents. Our studies found an overall overexpression of a microRNA cluster, miR-17-92 microRNAs in human primary osteosarcoma compared to normal bone. We learned that upregulation of this miR-17-92 cluster simultaneously silences a suite of key tumor suppressors. Using data from a novel spontaneous osteosarcoma mouse model and genetic screen, we discovered miR-17-92 targets, such as PTEN, PTRPD and SRGAP2, which are potential tumor suppressor genes. Specifically blocking miR-17-92 function in osteosarcoma cells reduced their migration and ability to grow larger tumors in immunodeficient mice compared to the controls. Also, knockdown of miR-17-92 cluster microRNAs led to increase in the levels of PTPRD and SRGAP2 in cells as well as tumors; further suggesting that miR-17-92 is targeting these genes. We also performed gain-of-function of miR-17-92 studies in a poorly aggressive osteosarcoma cell line and found that overexpression of miR-17-92 leads to ability to grow in an anchorage independent manner and form tumors in immunodeficient mice, both features that are lacking in the parental line. Ongoing RNA sequencing studies on miR-17-92 target transcripts in osteosarcoma cells, and functional analyses of miR-17-92 deletion mutants, will be presented. In an attempt to target miR-17-92 miRNA expression, we have tested small molecules. Our data suggests that triptolide, a diterpenoid epoxide, inhibits MYC expression and downregulates miR-17-92 miRNAs resulting in upregulation of several tumor suppressor driver proteins including PTEN, PTPRD, and SRGAP2. Together, our data suggests that upregulation of miR-17-92 miRNAs contributes to osteosarcoma progression and triptolide inhibits miR-17-92 expression. These data have implications for how sarcomas develop in general and suggest a new way to treat cancer by targeting microRNAs using small molecules.

Citation Format: Jyotika Varshney, Nicholas J. Slipek, John Osborne, Adrian Chang, Anne E. Sarver, Ingrid Cornax, Gerry M. O’ Sullivan, Subbaya Subramanian, David A. Largaespada. The miR-17-92 microRNA cluster plays a crucial role in osteosarcoma progression. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 107th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2016 Apr 16-20; New Orleans, LA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2016;76(14 Suppl):Abstract nr 1097.