Neuroblastoma is an embryonal tumor of the sympathetic nervous system and the most common extracranial tumor of childhood. By sequencing transcriptomes of low- and high-risk neuroblastomas, we detected differentially expressed annotated and nonannotated long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs). We identified a lncRNA neuroblastoma associated transcript-1 (NBAT-1) as a biomarker significantly predicting clinical outcome of neuroblastoma. CpG methylation and a high-risk neuroblastoma associated SNP on chromosome 6p22 functionally contribute to NBAT-1 differential expression. Loss of NBAT-1 increases cellular proliferation and invasion. It controls these processes via epigenetic silencing of target genes. NBAT-1 loss affects neuronal differentiation through activation of the neuronal-specific transcription factor NRSF/REST. Thus, loss of NBAT-1 contributes to aggressive neuroblastoma by increasing proliferation and impairing differentiation of neuronal precursors.
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