Expression of lncRNA MIR222HG co-transcribed from the miR-221/222 gene promoter facilitates the development of castration-resistant prostate cancer

Oncogenesis. 2018 Mar 13;7(3):30. doi: 10.1038/s41389-018-0039-5.


Mechanisms by which non-coding RNAs contribute to the progression of hormone-sensitive prostate cancer (PCa) (HSPC) to castration-resistant PCa (CRPC) remain largely unknown. We previously showed that microRNA-221/222 is up-regulated in CRPC and plays a critical role in modulating androgen receptor function during CRPC development. With further investigation, we characterized a putative promoter region located 23.3 kb upstream of the miR-221/222 gene, and this promoter is differentially activated in CRPC LNCaP-Abl cells, leading to the up-regulation of miR-221/222. Upon promoter activation, a set of polyadenylated long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) MIR222HGs was transcribed from this promoter region. Over-expression of these MIR222HGs increased androgen-independent cell growth and repressed the expression of androgen receptor-regulated dihydrotestosterone (DHT)-induced KLK3, TMPRSS2, and FKBP5 in HSPC LNCaP cells, hallmarks of the CRPC phenotype. Clinically, increased expression of MIR222HG is associated with PCa progression to CRPC. In primary tumors, expression levels of MIR222HG and miR-221/222 inversely correlate with Gleason score and androgen receptor (AR) pathway activity. Interestingly, MIR222HG is Argonaute 2-bound and its expression is Dicer 1-dependent, suggesting its functional association with the RNA-induced silencing complex. Further studies led to the hypothesis that MIR222HG may potentially affect miR-mediated expression silencing, subsequently leading to AR reprogramming. Our study highlights an essential role of a non-coding RNA in CRPC development and that differential activation of a single promoter can up-regulate two different types of non-coding RNAs, miR-221/222 and lncRNA MIR222HG, in CRPC. Additionally, this study reveals a novel function of lncRNAs as a modulator of Argonaute-mediated RNA-induced silencing complex.