Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most incident cancer and third leading cause of cancer-related mortality worldwide. Small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs located in the nucleoli of cells, and play key roles in multiple cancers. However, the role of serum snoRNAs in CRC remains unknown. We analyzed the expression of the snoRNA SNORD1C in the serum of patients with CRC using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) (n = 122). The receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were estimated, and the area under the ROC curve (AUC) was calculated. Gene ontology (GO) and Kyoto encyclopedia of genes and genomes (KEGG) analysis of co-expressed genes was performed using the database for annotation, visualization, and integrated discovery (DAVID), and visualized by R language. The results showed that the expression of SNORD1C in patients with CRC (n = 122) was significantly higher than that in normal individuals (n = 50) and patients with benign colorectal disease (n = 33) (P < 0.05). The overexpression of serum SNORD1C was related to poor tissue differentiation and high carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) levels (P < 0.05). In the ROC curve analysis, SNORD1C serum expression combined with CEA offered better predictive value for the diagnosis of CRC (AUC = 0.838) compared with SNORD1C (AUC = 0.748) or CEA (AUC = 0.715) alone. High expression of SNORD1C was found to be closely associated with prognosis and unfavorable outcomes in patient with CRC. Therefore, serum SNORD1C may be a noninvasive tumor biomarker for diagnosis of CRC.
Keywords: SNORD1C; Small nucleolar RNAs; biomarker; colorectal cancer; diagnosis.