Hypoxia-Induced lncRNA-NEAT1 Sustains the Growth of Hepatocellular Carcinoma via Regulation of miR-199a-3p/UCK2

Front Oncol. 2020 Jun 24:10:998. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2020.00998. eCollection 2020.


Objective: The long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) nuclear paraspeckle assembly transcript 1 (NEAT1) has emerged as a novel player in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Hypoxia is a common characteristic of the microenvironment of HCC. This study aimed to investigate whether lncRNA-NEAT1 is induced by hypoxia in HCC, and the mechanism that underlies LncRNA-NEAT1 function. Methods: The expression changes of lncRNA-NEAT1 in HCC cell lines under hypoxic conditions were examined by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). The regulatory effect of HIF-1α on lncRNA-NEAT1 was confirmed with chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and luciferase reporter assays. The function of lncRNA-NEAT1 on HCC cell growth under hypoxic conditions was determined by CCK-8 assay and flow cytometry. lncRNA -NEAT1 was predicted to serve as a competing endogenous RNA (ceRNA) within microRNA (miRNA)/mRNA axes based on microarray data, public HCC-related datasets and integrative bioinformatics analysis, and the miR-199a-3p/UCK2 axis was selected and validated by qRT-PCR, western blotting, RNA immunoprecipitation, and luciferase reporter analyses. The role of miR-199a-3p/UCK2 in HCC and its functional association with lncRNA-NEAT1 were assessed both in vitro and in vivo. Results: LncRNA-NEAT1 expression was significantly induced by hypoxia in SNU-182 and HUH7 cells. HIF-1α was shown to regulate lncRNA-NEAT1 transcription. Under hypoxic conditions, lncRNA-NEAT1 maintained the growth of HCC cells and inhibited apoptosis and cell cycle arrest. LncRNA-NEAT1 was predicted to regulate a panel of HCC-associated miRNA-mRNA pairs consisting of 8 miRNAs and 13 mRNAs. LncRNA-NEAT1 was shown to function as a ceRNA of miR-199a-3p/UCK2 both in HCC cells under hypoxic conditions and in an animal model. Conclusion: LncRNA-NEAT1 is a hypoxia-responsive lncRNA in HCC cell lines Insilico evidence suggested that LncRNA-NEAT1 may sustainthe growth of HCC cells by regulating HCC-associated mRNAs that interact with tumor-suppressive miRNAs. The lncRNA-NEAT1/miR-199a-3p/UCK2 pathway may contribute to the progression of HCC cell lines in a hypoxic microenvironment and therefore may represent a novel therapeutic target for HCC.

Keywords: LncRNA-NEAT1; UCK2; hepatocellular carcinoma; hypoxia; microRNA.