Expression of a family of noncoding mitochondrial RNAs distinguishes normal from cancer cells.
ABSTRACT: We reported the presence in human cells of a noncoding mitochondrial RNA that contains an inverted repeat (IR) of 815 nucleotides (nt) covalently linked to the 5′ end of the mitochondrial 16s RNA (16S mtrRNA). The transcript contains a stem-loop structure and is expressed in human proliferating cells but not in resting cells. Here, we demonstrate that, in addition to this transcript, normal human proliferating cells in culture express 2 antisense mitochondrial transcripts. These transcripts also contain stem-loop structures but strikingly they are down-regulated in tumor cell lines and tumor cells present in 17 different tumor types. The differential expression of these transcripts distinguishes normal from tumor cells and might contribute a unique vision on cancer biology and diagnostics.