The human hepatocyte nuclear factor 1 homeobox A (HNF1A) gene loci express the protein-coding HNF1A transcript and a long non-coding RNA in the anti-sense (HNF1A-AS1) direction. HNF1A-AS1 is expressed in numerous types of cancers and poor clinical outcomes such as higher mortality rates, greater metastatic capacity, and poor prognosis of the disease are the results of this expression. In this study, we determined the epigenetic features of the HNF1A gene loci, and expression and cellular localization of HNF1A-AS1 RNA, HNF1A RNA, and HNF1A protein in colorectal cancer (HT-29, HTC116, RKO, and SW480) and normal colon epithelial (CCD841) cells. The HT-29 HNF1A gene had active histone marks (H3K4me3, H3K27ac) and DNase 1 accessible sites at the promoter regions of the HNF1A and HNF1A-AS1 genes. These epigenetic marks were not observed in the other colorectal cancer cells or in the normal colon epithelial cells. Consistent with the active gene epigenetic signature of the HNF1A gene in HT-29 cells, HNF1A protein, and HNF1A/HNF1A-AS1 transcripts were detected in HT-29 cells but poorly, if at all observed, in the other cell types. In HT-29 cells, HNF1A-AS1 localized to the nucleus and was found to bind to the enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2, a member of PRC2 complex) and potentially form RNA-DNA triplexes with DNase 1 accessible sites in the HT-29 genome. These activities of HNF1A-AS1 may contribute to the oncogenic properties of this long non-coding RNA.
Keywords: HNF1A; PRC2 complex; epigenetic marks; triplex.
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