FOXC1-mediated LINC00301 facilitates tumor progression and triggers an immune-suppressing microenvironment in non-small cell lung cancer by regulating the HIF1α pathway

Genome Med. 2020 Sep 2;12(1):77. doi: 10.1186/s13073-020-00773-y.


Background: Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are extensively intricate in the tumorigenesis and metastasis of various cancer types. Nevertheless, the detailed molecular mechanisms of lncRNA in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) still remain mainly undetermined.

Methods: qPCR was performed to verify LINC00301 expression in NSCLC clinical specimens or cell lines. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) was conducted to identify the localization of LINC00301 in NSCLC cells. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) was subjected to validate the binding activity between FOXC1 and LINC00301 promoters. RNA immunoprecipitation (RIP) was performed to explore the binding activity between LINC00301 and EZH2. RNA pull-down followed by dot-blot, protein domain mapping, and RNA electrophoresis mobility shift assay (EMSA) were conducted to identify the detailed binding regions between LINC00301 and EZH2. Alpha assay was conducted to quantitatively assess the interaction between LINC00301 and EZH2.

Results: LINC00301 is highly expressed in NSCLC and closely corelated to its prognosis by analyzing the relationship between differentially expressed lncRNAs and prognosis in NSCLC samples. in vitro and in vivo experiments revealed that LINC00301 facilitates cell proliferation, releases NSCLC cell cycle arrest, promotes cell migration and invasion, and suppresses cell apoptosis in NSCLC. In addition, LINC00301 increases regulatory T cell (Treg) while decreases CD8+ T cell population in LA-4/SLN-205-derived tumors through targeting TGF-β. The transcription factor FOXC1 mediates LINC00301 expression in NSCLC. Bioinformatics prediction and in vitro experiments indicated that LINC00301 (83-123 nucleotide [nt]) can directly bind to the enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) (612-727 amino acid [aa]) to promote H3K27me3 at the ELL protein-associated factor 2 (EAF2) promoter. EAF2 directly binds and stabilizes von Hippel-Lindau protein (pVHL), so downregulated EAF2 augments hypoxia-inducible factor 1 α (HIF1α) expression by regulating pVHL in NSCLC cells. Moreover, we also found that LINC00301 could function as a competing endogenous RNA (ceRNA) against miR-1276 to expedite HIF1α expression in the cytoplasm of NSCLC cells.

Conclusions: In summary, our present research revealed the oncogenic roles of LINC00301 in clinical specimens as well as cellular and animal experiments, illustrating the potential roles and mechanisms of the FOXC1/LINC00301/EZH2/EAF2/pVHL/HIF1α and FOXC1/LINC00301/miR-1276/HIF1α pathways, which provides novel insights and potential theraputic targets to NSCLC.

Keywords: ELL protein-associated factor 2 (EAF2); Enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2); Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 α (HIF1α); LINC00301; Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); Regulatory T cells (Treg); Tumorigenesis; miR-1276.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / etiology*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Cell Cycle / genetics
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • DNA Methylation
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Progression
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / metabolism*
  • Immunomodulation / genetics*
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Mice
  • Nucleotide Motifs
  • Prognosis
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Protein Binding
  • RNA, Long Noncoding / genetics*
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism
  • Tumor Microenvironment / genetics*
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology


  • FOXC1 protein, human
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • HIF1A protein, human
  • Histones
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • RNA, Long Noncoding