Oncofetal genes are genes that express abundantly in both fetal and tumor tissues yet downregulated or undetected in adult tissues, and can be used as tumor markers for cancer diagnosis and treatment. Meanwhile, long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are known to play crucial roles in the pathogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), including tumor growth, proliferation, metastasis, invasion, and recurrence. We performed a genome-wide screening using microarrays to detect the lncRNA expression profiles in fetal livers, adult livers, and liver cancer tissues from mice to identify oncofetal lncRNAs in HCC. From the microarray data analysis, we identified lncRNA Ptn-dt as a possible oncofetal gene. Both in vitro and in vivo experiments results confirmed that overexpression of Ptn-dt significantly promoted the proliferation of mouse HCC cells. RNA pulldown assay showed that Ptn-dt could interact with the HuR protein. Interestingly, miR-96 binds with HuR to maintain its stability as well. Overexpression of lncRNA Ptn-dt led to the downregulation of miR-96, which might be due to the interaction between Ptn-dt and HuR. Meanwhile, previous studies have reported that Ptn can promote tumor growth and vascular abnormalization via anaplastic lymphoma kinase (Alk) signaling. In our study, we found that overexpression of Ptn-dt could promote the expression of Alk through repressing miR-96 via interacting with HuR, thus enhancing the biologic function of Ptn. In summary, a new oncofetal lncRNA Ptn-dt is identified, and it can promote the proliferation of HCC cells by regulating the HuR/miR-96/Alk pathway and Ptn-Alk axis.
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We thank Dr. Li Su for the help in flow cytometry technique, and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (the Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China) for the ethics approval of animal studies. Some elements of Fig. 6 are from LES LABORATOIRES SERVIER. This work was supported by grants from the National Key Basic Research Program (973 project) (2015CB554004) from the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81672775 and 81330037) and the Natural Science Foundation of Shanghai (15XD1504500).
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