Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Zendra Zehner


Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in the United States that affects men today. To better treat this disease accurate biomarkers and successful therapeutic treatments are needed. A novel approach to understand the mechanisms behind prostate cancer tumor formation lies in identifying dysregulated micro-RNAs (miRNAs), which are a class of small (18-24 nucleotides) non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression posttranscriptionally by either inhibiting protein synthesis or signaling messenger-RNA for degradation. Multiple miRNAs were discovered in our highly tumorigenic and metastatic prostate cancer progression model M12 cell line compared to its weakly tumorigenic P69 parental cell line. Various analyses such as human panel analyses, single-miR analyses and patient tumor biopsy samples were analyzed to determine dysregulated miRNAs that contributed to the progression and metastasis of prostate cancer. Together with performing experiments to identify miRNAs, a de novo next generation sequencing approach was applied to identify miRNAs naturally present in biological fluids of normal and healthy subjects. Since, these miRNAs are highly dysregulated in many diseases, including cancer, they can act as potential biomarkers or therapeutic targets to improve treatments for prostate cancer. Essential miRNAs studied for this research were miR-17-3p that is known to target the ErbB2 mRNA; miR-299-5p that directly targets osteopontin (OPN) mRNA, and miR-147b that directly targets many mRNAs, such as COL4A2, ALDH5A1, NDUFA4, SDHD, and IER5. A wide range of miRNAs were identified in six biological fluids: venous blood, menstrual blood, vaginal fluid, semen, saliva, and feces. There were some miRNAs that were common to all 6 body fluids, some unique to each body fluid, and some miRNAs that literature suggested could potentially be biomarkers or normalizers for body fluid characterization.


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