The transcribed ultraconserved region uc.160+ enhances processing and A-to-I editing of the miR-376 cluster: hypermethylation improves glioma prognosis

Mol Oncol. 2021 Oct 19. doi: 10.1002/1878-0261.13121. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Transcribed ultraconserved regions (T-UCRs) are noncoding RNAs derived from DNA sequences that are entirely conserved across species. Their expression is altered in many tumor types, and, although a role for T-UCRs as regulators of gene expression has been proposed, their functions remain largely unknown. Herein, we describe the epigenetic silencing of the uc.160+ T-UCR in gliomas and mechanistically define a novel RNA-RNA regulatory network in which uc.160+ modulates the biogenesis of several members of the miR-376 cluster. This includes the positive regulation of primary microRNA (pri-miRNA) cleavage and an enhanced A-to-I editing on its mature sequence. As a consequence, the expression of uc.160+ affects the downstream, miR-376-regulated genes, including the transcriptional coregulators RING1 and YY1-binding protein (RYBP) and forkhead box P2 (FOXP2). Finally, we elucidate the clinical impact of our findings, showing that hypermethylation of the uc.160+ CpG island is an independent prognostic factor associated with better overall survival in lower-grade gliomas, highlighting the importance of T-UCRs in cancer pathophysiology.

Keywords: A-to-I editing; T-UCR; glioma; miR-376; noncoding RNA; pri-miRNA biogenesis.