Non-canonical miRNA-RNA base-pairing impedes tumor suppressor activity of miR-16
Uveal melanoma (UM), the most common primary intraocular tumor in adults, has been extensively characterized by omics technologies during the last 5 yr. Despite the discovery of gene signatures, the molecular actors driving cancer aggressiveness are not fully understood, and UM is still associated with very poor overall survival (OS) at the metastatic stage. By defining the miR-16 interactome, we revealed that miR-16 mainly interacts via non-canonical base-pairing to a subset of RNAs, promoting their expression levels. Consequently, the canonical miR-16 activity, involved in the RNA decay of oncogenes, such ascyclin D3, is impaired. This non-canonical base-pairing can explain both the derepression of miR-16 targets and the promotion of oncogene expression observed in patients with poor OS in two cohorts. miR-16 activity, assessment using our RNA signature, discriminates the patient’s OS as effectively as current methods. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that a predictive signature has been composed of genes belonging to the same mechanism (miR-16) in UM. Altogether, our results strongly suggest that UM is a miR-16 disease.