RNA helicases are dysregulated in tumors. Here, we identified DHX37 as one of the top RNA helicase genes with upregulated expression in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). DHX37 promoted proliferation of liver cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. Epigenomic profiling of DHX37-knockdown and control HCC cells revealed that DHX37 is associated with superenhancer activity. Mechanistically, DHX37 interacted with pleiotropic regulator 1 (PLRG1) to transcriptionally activate cyclin D1 (CCND1) expression via co-occupation of its promoter and superenhancer elements. DHX37 and PLRG1 promoted liver cancer cell proliferation and contributed to the poor prognosis of patients with HCC. Importantly, CCND1 inhibitors were effective as antiproliferative agents for liver cancer. These results together demonstrate a cooperative mechanistic interaction between DHX37 and PLRG1 that regulates CCND1 expression and promotes liver cancer progression, advancing our understanding of the epigenetic and transcriptional dysregulations mediated by RNA helicases and superenhancers in HCC.
Significance: This work characterizes a novel mechanism of superenhancer-driven cyclin D1 upregulation by DHX37 and PLRG1, implicating this pathway as a potential therapeutic target in hepatocellular carcinoma.
©2022 The Authors; Published by the American Association for Cancer Research.