WIPI-1 inhibits metastasis and tumour growth via the WIPI-1-TRIM21 axis and MYC regulation in nasopharyngeal carcinoma

Oral Oncol. 2021 Nov;122:105576. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2021.105576. Epub 2021 Oct 21.


The metastatic rate of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is the highest among head and neck tumours. Additionally, distant metastasis is the main cause of therapy failure and mortality in NPC. Thus, novel biomarkers are needed for designing new therapeutic strategies to improve the prognosis of this disease. In this study, qRT-PCR and western blotting revealed that the expression of the WD repeat domain phosphoinositide interacting 1 (WIPI-1) was markedly decreased in NPC cells and tissues. Furthermore, low WIPI-1 expression closely correlated with poor prognosis in NPC patients. In vitro functional experiments revealed that overexpression or knockdown of WIPI-1 repressed or facilitated the migration, colony formation, and proliferation of NPC cells. Consistent with the in vitro studies, WIPI-1 significantly inhibited tumour growth, invasion and metastasis in popliteal lymph node metastasis, lung metastasis, and xenograft mouse models in vivo. Mechanistically, WIPI-1 directly interacted with tripartite motif containing 21 (TRIM21) and enhanced starvation-induced autophagy by interacting with TRIM21 in NPC cells. Moreover, MYC gene expression was markedly increased in the WIPI-1 knockdown group, as demonstrated by RNA-seq analysis and qRT-PCR validation. Altogether, WIPI-1 acts as a tumour suppressor gene in NPC that inhibits tumour growth and metastasis. Targeting WIPI-1 may be a novel treatment approach for NPC.

Keywords: MYC; Metastasis; Nasopharyngeal carcinoma; TRIM21; WIPI-1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't