Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is a highly lethal malignant tumor arising from the biliary tract epithelium. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a major mediator of inflammation and contributor to carcinogenesis within the biliary tree. Previous studies suggested that enforced IL-6 contributes to cholangiocarcinogenesis through hypermethylation of several genes implicated in CCA. However, the precise mechanisms of IL-6 effects in CCA remain unclear. We now demonstrate that microRNA (miR)-370 is underexpressed in a large cohort of human CCA vs. normal liver tissues. In addition, we show that IL-6 induces a time-dependent silencing of miR-370. In addition, demethylation of CCA cells results in upregulation of miR-370. Furthermore, we demonstrate that miR-370 is imprinted, and that the Intergenic Differentially Methylated Region (IG-DMR) responsible for imprinting regulation of this genomic locus is hypermethylated in response to IL-6 treatment. In addition, the IG-DMR is hypermethylated in human CCA specimens compared to normal matched controls, in the same location as the IL-6 induced hypermethylation. Finally, miR-370 was found to regulate WNT10B in luciferase as well as western blotting experiments. Our data indicate that the paternal allele of miR-370 is normally silenced through genomic imprinting and that the overexpression of IL-6 in CCA effectively suppresses the expression of miR-370 from the maternal allele, lending support to the theory that miR-370 silencing in human CCA follows a classic two-hit mechanism.
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