A tumor and immune related miRNA signature predicts progression-free survival of melanoma patients treated with ipilimumab

Ahmad TarhiniPriyanka VallabhaneniTheofanis FlorosWilliam A. LaFramboisePanayiotis V. Benos and Lucas Santana dos Santos.


Proceedings: AACR 107th Annual Meeting 2016; April 16-20, 2016; New Orleans, LA




Patients with regionally advanced melanoma were treated with neoadjuvant ipilimumab in a previously reported study (Tarhini et al, PLOS One 2014). MicroRNA (miRNA) expression profiles of tumors of treated patients were investigated for their therapeutic predictive value.


Patients were treated with ipilimumab (10 mg/kg IV every 3 weeks x2 doses) bracketing surgery. Tumor specimens were obtained at baseline and following ipilimumab at definitive surgery (week 6-8). MiRNA expression profiling was performed on the tumor biopsies of 30 patients using Affymetrix miRNA array (v.4). Significance Analysis of Microarrays (SAM) was performed to test the association of each differentially expressed miRNA molecule with outcome. Targets of the selected miRNAs were obtained from miRTarBase (http://mirtarbase.mbc.nctu.edu.tw). Functional annotation analysis of the list of miRNA target genes were performed using DAVID (https://david.ncifcrf.gov). The FDR method was used to adjust for multiple testing in SAM and the functional analysis.


An expression profile consisting of a 4-miRNA signature was associated with improved progression free survival. The signature consisted of miR-34c (previously reported to suppress cancer growth and invasion), miR-711 (reported as a prognostic marker in cutaneous T-cell lymphomas and to target and suppress Heat Shock Protein 70 highly expressed in melanoma), miR-641 (activates MAPK by targeting NF1 and cooperates with its host gene AKT2 in human cancer) and miR-22 (reported to function as a tumour suppressor). Functional annotation analysis of target genes for the 4-miRNA signature was statistically significantly enriched for various cancer-related pathways including regulation of cell proliferation (GO:0042147), regulation of apoptosis (GO:0042981), MAPK signaling pathway (hsa04010) and positive regulation of T cell activation (GO:0050870).


MiRNA expression profiling identified a 4-miRNA signature that is significantly associated with PFS in advanced melanoma patients treated with neoadjuvant ipilimumab. Preliminary results show that targets of these 4 miRNAs are biologically relevant and important. These findings warrant further investigation in relation to ipilimumab and other immunotherapeutics.

Citation Format: Ahmad Tarhini, Priyanka Vallabhaneni, Theofanis Floros, William A. LaFramboise, Panayiotis V. Benos, Lucas Santana dos Santos. A tumor and immune related miRNA signature predicts progression-free survival of melanoma patients treated with ipilimumab. [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 473.

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