miSNPs as novel diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for prostate cancer

Micro RNAs (miRNA) are small RNA molecules, which, unlike other RNA types, do not build proteins. They do, however, regulate gene expression by binding mostly to a specific region (known as the 3’ untranslated (UTR) region) of the target genes. It is estimated that approximately 30% of human genes are controlled by miRNAs, and this estimate is proposed to be even higher in cancer cells.

Genetic variations in the miRNA genes and the 3′ UTR regions of the target genes are collectively called miRSNPs. These genetic variations can affect the how parts of the miRNAs and messenger RNAs (known as base pairs) bind to each other, and in this way, are able to disrupt existing target sites or create novel target sites. Certain specific miRSNPs in two cancer relevant genes (called MDM4 and VAMP8) have previously been found to be associated with the risk of prostate cancer. We believe that these miRSNPs could play an important role in the formation of prostate cancer by affecting gene expression in certain regions of the RNA.

Our study will use the well-established mechanism of miRNA regulation in the prostate cancer formation as a basis from which to study the as yet unexplored area of how genetic variants in untranslated gene regions regulate genes in the belief that this will lead to clinically-significant information. We believe that further in-depth analysis of miRSNPs will highlight additional loci harbouring prostate cancer risk genes, which will be useful biomarkers for disease diagnosis and prognosis.


Jyotsna Batra APCRC-Q, IHBI, QUT, TRI

Associate Investigators

Judith Clements APCRC-Q, IHBI, QUT, TRI
Amanda Spurdle QIMR Berghofer
Colleen Nelson APCRC-Q, IHBI, QUT, TRI
Luke Selth University of Adelaide
Melanie Lehman APCRC-Q, IHBI, QUT, TRI
Rodney Webb
Rosalind Eeles


2014 - 2015


Cancer Australia $200 000