Background: Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) have been indicated to play critical roles in cancer development and progression. LncRNA HOXD cluster antisense RNA1 (HOXD-AS1) has recently been found to be dysregulated in several cancers. However, the expression levels, cellular localization, precise function and mechanism of HOXD-AS1 in colorectal carcinoma (CRC) are largely unknown.
Methods: Real-time PCR and in situ hybridization were used to detect the expression of HOXD-AS1 in CRC tissue samples and cell lines. Gain- and loss-of-function experiments were performed to investigate the biological roles of HOXD-AS1 in CRC cell line. RNA pull down, RNA immunoprecipitation and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays were conducted to investigate the mechanisms underlying the functions of HOXD-AS1 in CRC.
Results: We observed that HOXD-AS1 was located in the nucleus of CRC cells and that nuclear HOXD-AS1 was downregulated in most CRC specimens and cell lines. Lower levels of nuclear HOXD-AS1 expression were associated with poor outcomes of CRC patients. HOXD-AS1 downregulation enhanced proliferation and migration of CRC cells in vitro and facilitated CRC tumourigenesis and metastasis in vivo. Mechanistic investigations revealed that HOXD-AS1 could suppress HOXD3 transcription by recruiting PRC2 to induce the accumulation of the repressive marker H3K27me3 at the HOXD3 promoter. Subsequently, HOXD3, as a transcriptional activator, promoted Integrin β3 transcription, thereby activating the MAPK/AKT signalling pathways.
Conclusion: Our results reveal a previously unrecognized HOXD-AS1-HOXD3-Integrin β3 regulatory axis involving in epigenetic and transcriptional regulation constitutes to CRC carcinogenesis and progression.
Keywords: Colorectal carcinoma; HOXD-AS1; HOXD3; PRC2; lncRNA.