Abstract

Emerging studies demonstrate that PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) participate in the development of cancers. 75 pairs of papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) samples and 31 benign thyroid nodule samples were included in this three-phase biomarker identifying study. First, piRNA expression profiles of five pairs of PTC samples were acquired piRNA sequencing. The expression of all upregulated piRNAs were further validated by RT-qPCR. Paired t and nonparametric test were used to evaluate the association between all upregulated piRNAs and clinic stage. The expression levels of key piRNAs were corrected by demographic data to construct a multivariate model to distinguish malignant nodules from benign. Additionally, the intersection between target genes of key piRNAs and differentially expressed genes in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) PTC samples were used to perform enrichment analysis. Only piR-13643 and piR-21238 were significantly upregulated in PTC and associated with clinic stage. Moreover, both piR-13643 (Area Under Curve (AUC): 0.821) and piR-21238 (AUC: 0.823) showed better performance in distinguishing malignant nodules from benign than currently used biomarkers HBME1 (AUC: 0.590). Based on our findings, piR-13643 and piR-21238 were observed to be significantly upregulated in human PTC. PIWI-interacting RNAs could serve as promising novel biomarkers for accurate detection of PTC.