HOXA11-AS promotes the progression of oral squamous cell carcinoma by targeting the miR-518a-3p/PDK1 axis

Cancer Cell Int. 2019 May 21;19:140. doi: 10.1186/s12935-019-0838-6. eCollection 2019.


Background: Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are promising therapeutic molecules of cancer. Here we aim to study the therapeutic effect and mechanism of a lncRNA, HOXA11-AS, in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC).

Methods: OSCC tissues and adjacent matched paraneoplastic normal tissues used in this study were collected from 42 OSCC patients. The significant downregulation or upregulation of HOXA11-AS expression in OSCC cells was confirmed by quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). Bioinformatics analysis of StarBase were performed to investigate the potential microRNAs mediated by HOXA11-AS. HOXA11-AS-transfected cells or control cells were subcutaneously injected into nude mice to further determine the effects of HOXA11-AS on OSCC progression in vivo.

Results: qRT-PCR analysis indicated that HOXA11-AS expression was significantly upregulated in OSCC tissues. Functional studies revealed that HOXA11-AS significantly promotes cell proliferation, reduces the percentage of G0/G1 phase cells and enhances the cell invasion in OSCC. Bioinformatics analysis suggested that a microRNA (miRNA), miR-518a-3p, is as a target of HOXA11-AS. Alteration of miR-518a-3p levels by HOXA11-AS transduced to changes in PDK1 expression. In a mouse model of OSCC, HOXA11-AS overexpression promoted tumor growth, concomitant with reduced miR-518a-3p expression and increased PDK1 expression.

Conclusion: Taken together, our study demonstrates that HOXA11-AS/miR-518a-3p/PDK1 axis is an important regulator of OSCC progression and may serve as a potential therapeutic target in OSCC. HARMU20150128, registered at Jan, 28 2018.

Keywords: HOXA11-AS; Oral squamous cell carcinoma; PDK1; miR-518a-3p.