LncRNA C9orf139 can regulate the growth of pancreatic cancer by mediating the miR-663a/Sox12 axis

World J Gastrointest Oncol. 2020 Nov 15;12(11):1272-1287. doi: 10.4251/wjgo.v12.i11.1272.


Background: Recent studies have proved the important role of many oncogenic long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) in the progression of pancreatic cancer, but little is known about the mechanisms of tumor suppression in pancreatic cancer.

Aim: To evaluate the function of tumor suppressor lncRNA C9orf139 in pancreatic cancer progression and to study the underlying mechanism.

Methods: We assigned 54 patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma treated at our hospital to the patient group and 30 normal subjects undergoing physical examination to the control group. RT-qPCR was used to measure the relative expression of C9orf139 in the tissue and serum of patients, in an attempt to investigate the prognostic value of C9orf139 in pancreatic cancer patients. The luciferase reporter gene assay was performed to determine the interaction between C9orf139 and miR-663a. The biological function of C9orf139 was assessed by in vitro assays and in vivo subcutaneous tumor formation tests in animal models. To figure out the molecular mechanism of C9orf139 to act on miR-663a/Sox12, RNA pull-down, Western blot assay, RNA immunoprecipitation assay, and co-immunoprecipitation assay were performed.

Results: C9orf139 level significantly increased in the tissue and serum of patients, which had clinical diagnostic value for pancreatic cancer. Patients with high C9orf139 expression had a higher risk of progressing to stage III + IV, lymph node metastasis, and poor differentiation. Cox regression analysis suggested that C9orf139, tumor-node-metastasis stage, and lymph node metastasis were independent prognostic factors in patients. The underlying mechanism of C9orf139 was that it promoted the growth of pancreatic cancer cells by modulating the miR-663a/Sox12 axis.

Conclusion: C9orf139 is highly expressed in pancreatic cancer, qualified to be used as a potential diagnostic and prognostic marker for pancreatic cancer. Its promotion of pancreatic cancer cell growth is achieved by mediating the miR-663a/Sox12 axis.

Keywords: C9orf139; Pancreatic cancer; Prognosis; Sox12; Tumor formation in nude mice; miR-663a.