Many long noncoding RNAs have been reported to play pivotal roles in cancer biology. Among them, the long noncoding RNA ZNFX1-AS1 has been confirmed to function in breast cancer progression, but the role of ZNFX1-AS1 in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) growth and the related molecular mechanisms still remains unknown. In the present study, we first identified the expression of ZNFX1-AS1 in HCC patients' specimens and HCC cell lines through quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. Next, the effects of ZNFX1-AS1 on HCC cell growth and apoptosis were analyzed. MTT assay was used to measure the cell numbers, and fluorescence-activated cell sorting analysis was performed to evaluate cell apoptosis. Finally, the relationship between ZNFX1-AS1 and miR-9 in HCC was studied. Our results suggest that ZNFX1-AS1 was markedly downregulated in HCC samples and cell lines. Overexpression of ZNFX1-AS1 inhibited the cell proliferation and colony formation in HCC cell lines and also induced HCC cell apoptosis. Additionally, miR-9 was lowly expressed in HCC tissues and positively correlated with ZNFX1-AS1 expression. Meanwhile, significant upregulation of miR-9 and downregulation of the methylation of miR-9 promoter CpG island were observed when ZNFX1-AS1 was overexpressed. In summary, our results indicate that ZNFX1-AS1 plays a vital role in HCC progression via regulating the methylation of miR-9 and may be a potential tumor suppressor.
Keywords: ZNFX1-AS1; hepatocellular carcinoma; methylation; miR-9.