Background: Liver tumor initiating cells (TICs) have self-renewal and differentiation properties, accounting for tumor initiation, metastasis and drug resistance. Long noncoding RNAs are involved in many physiological and pathological processes, including tumorigenesis. DNA copy number alterations (CNA) participate in tumor formation and progression, while the CNA of lncRNAs and their roles are largely unknown.
Methods: LncRNA CNA was determined by microarray analyses, realtime PCR and DNA FISH. Liver TICs were enriched by surface marker CD133 and oncosphere formation. TIC self-renewal was analyzed by oncosphere formation, tumor initiation and propagation. CRISPRi and ASO were used for lncRNA loss of function. RNA pulldown, western blot and double FISH were used to identify the interaction between lncRNA and CTNNBIP1.
Results: Using transcriptome microarray analysis, we identified a frequently amplified long noncoding RNA in liver cancer termed linc00210, which was highly expressed in liver cancer and liver TICs. Linc00210 copy number gain is associated with its high expression in liver cancer and liver TICs. Linc00210 promoted self-renewal and tumor initiating capacity of liver TICs through Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Linc00210 interacted with CTNNBIP1 and blocked its inhibitory role in Wnt/β-catenin activation. Linc00210 silencing cells showed enhanced interaction of β-catenin and CTNNBIP1, and impaired interaction of β-catenin and TCF/LEF components. We also confirmed linc00210 copy number gain using primary hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) samples, and found the correlation between linc00210 CNA and Wnt/β-catenin activation. Of interest, linc00210, CTNNBIP1 and Wnt/β-catenin signaling targeting can efficiently inhibit tumor growth and progression, and liver TIC propagation.
Conclusion: With copy-number gain in liver TICs, linc00210 is highly expressed along with liver tumorigenesis. Linc00210 drives the self-renewal and propagation of liver TICs through activating Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Linc00210 interacts with CTNNBIP1 and blocks the combination between CTNNBIP1 and β-catenin, driving the activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Linc00210-CTNNBIP1-Wnt/β-catenin axis can be targeted for liver TIC elimination.
Keywords: CTNNBIP1; Copy number alterations; Linc00210; Liver TICs; Wnt/β-catenin.