Long noncoding RNA CASC11 promotes hepatocarcinogenesis and HCC progression through EIF4A3-mediated E2F1 activation

Clin Transl Med. 2020 Nov;10(7):e220. doi: 10.1002/ctm2.220.


Background: Growing evidences have been revealing that long noncoding RNAs are vital factors in oncogenesis and tumor development. Among them, cancer susceptibility candidate 11 (CASC11) has displayed an impressively essential role in various kinds of cancers including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Nevertheless, its role and potential mechanism in HCC still remain to be fully investigated.

Methods: CASC11 expression level was evaluated by real-time polymerase chain reaction, western blotting, and in situ hybridization staining in HCC patients, and its prognostic effect was analyzed. The role of CASC11 in HCC tumorigenesis and progression was investigated by cell proliferation assay, transwell assay, extracellular acidification rate, western blotting, flow cytometry, and an in vivo xenograft model. The interactions among CASC11, E2F transcription factor 1 (E2F1), and eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4A3 (EIF4A3) were explored by using quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, western blotting, RNA-binding protein immunoprecipitation assay, and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays.

Results: Upregulation of CASC11 was confirmed in HCC tissues and associated with poor prognosis. Loss of function assays showed inhibition of CASC11 expression suppressed HCC cells proliferation, mobility, and glucose metabolism and promoted apoptosis. E2F1 expression significantly decreased after inhibition of CASC11. Rescue experiments illustrated that E2F1 overexpression alleviated the suppression of CASC11 inhibition on HCC progression in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, CASC11 recruited EIF4A3 to enhance the stability of E2F1 mRNA. CASC11 and E2F1 impacted the activation of the NF-κB signaling and PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway and further regulated the expression PD-L1 that is an important target of immunotherapy. In addition, we identified YY1 could modulate CASC11 expression by binding to its promoter.

Conclusions: Our data revealed that CASC11 promoted the progression of HCC by means of EIF4A3-mediated E2F1 upregulation, indicating CASC11 is a promising diagnostic biomarker and therapeutic target for HCC.

Keywords: CASC11; E2F1; EIF4A3; PD-L1; hepatocellular carcinoma; long noncoding RNAs.