Long non-coding RNA ROR decoys gene-specific histone methylation to promote tumorigenesis

Genome Biol. 2015 Jul 14;16(1):139. doi: 10.1186/s13059-015-0705-2.


Background: Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are not translated into proteins and were initially considered to be part of the 'dark matter' of the genome. Recently, it has been shown that lncRNAs play a role in the recruitment of chromatin modifying complexes and can influence gene expression. However, it is unknown if lncRNAs function in a similar way in cancer.

Results: Here, we show that the lncRNA ROR occupies and activates the TESC promoter by repelling the histone G9A methyltransferase and promoting the release of histone H3K9 methylation. Suppression of ROR in tumors results in silencing of TESC expression, and G9A-mediated histone H3K9 methylation in the TESC promoter is restored, which significantly reduces tumor growth and metastasis. Without ROR silencing, TESC knockdown presents consistent and significant reductions in tumor progression.

Conclusions: Our results reveal a novel mechanism by which ROR may serve as a decoy oncoRNA that blocks binding surfaces, preventing the recruitment of histone modifying enzymes, thereby specifying a new pattern of histone modifications that promote tumorigenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Carcinogenesis / genetics*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Disease Progression
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • HT29 Cells
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase / metabolism
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Methylation
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • RNA, Long Noncoding / metabolism*


  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Histones
  • Linc-RNA-RoR, human
  • RNA, Long Noncoding
  • TESC protein, human
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase