Super-enhancer-associated TMEM44-AS1 aggravated glioma progression by forming a positive feedback loop with Myc

J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2021 Oct 25;40(1):337. doi: 10.1186/s13046-021-02129-9.


Background: Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) have been considered as one type of gene expression regulator for cancer development, but it is not clear how these are regulated. This study aimed to identify a specific lncRNA that promotes glioma progression.

Methods: RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) and quantitative real-time PCR were performed to screen differentially expressed genes. CCK-8, transwell migration, invasion assays, and a mouse xenograft model were performed to determine the functions of TMEM44-AS1. Co-IP, ChIP, Dual-luciferase reporter assays, RNA pulldown, and RNA immunoprecipitation assays were performed to study the molecular mechanism of TMEM44-AS1 and the downstream target.

Results: We identified a novel lncRNA TMEM44-AS1, which was aberrantly expressed in glioma tissues, and that increased TMEM44-AS1 expression was correlated with malignant progression and poor survival for patients with glioma. Expression of TMEM44-AS1 increased the proliferation, colony formation, migration, and invasion of glioma cells. Knockdown of TMEM44-AS1 in glioma cells reduced cell proliferation, colony formation, migration and invasion, and tumor growth in a nude mouse xenograft model. Mechanistically, TMEM44-AS1 is directly bound to the SerpinB3, and sequentially activated Myc and EGR1/IL-6 signaling; Myc transcriptionally induced TMEM44-AS1 and directly bound to the promoter and super-enhancer of TMEM44-AS1, thus forming a positive feedback loop with TMEM44-AS. Further studies demonstrated that Myc interacts with MED1 regulates the super-enhancer of TMEM44-AS1. More importantly, a novel small-molecule Myc inhibitor, Myci975, alleviated TMEM44-AS1-promoted the growth of glioma cells.

Conclusions: Our study implicates a crucial role of the TMEM44-AS1-Myc axis in glioma progression and provides a possible anti-glioma therapeutic agent.

Keywords: Glioma; Myc; Super-enhancer; TMEM44-AS1; lncRNA.