m6A methylated EphA2 and VEGFA through IGF2BP2/3 regulation promotes vasculogenic mimicry in colorectal cancer via PI3K/AKT and ERK1/2 signaling

Cell Death Dis. 2022 May 21;13(5):483. doi: 10.1038/s41419-022-04950-2.


Exploring the epigenetic regulation mechanism of colorectal cancer (CRC) from the perspective of N6-methyladenosine (m6A) modification may provide a new target for tumor therapy. Analysis using high-throughput RNA-seq profile from TCGA found that the gene expression of Methyltransferase-like 3 (METTL3) was significantly upregulated among 20 m6A binding proteins in CRC, which was also validated in CRC cancer tissues and cell lines. Moreover, transcriptome sequencing in METTL3 knockdown cells using CRISPR/Cas9 editing suggested that EphA2 and VEGFA were differential expression, which were enriched in the vasculature development, PI3K/AKT and ERK1/2 signal pathway through the functional enrichment analysis. The results in vitro revealed that METTL3 as the m6A "writers" participates the methylation of EphA2 and VEGFA, which were recognized by the m6A "readers", insulin-like growth factor 2 mRNA binding protein 2/3 (IGF2BP2/3), to prevent their mRNA degradation. In addition, EphA2 and VEGFA targeted by METTL3 via different IGF2BP-dependent mechanisms were found to promote vasculogenic mimicry (VM) formation via PI3K/AKT/mTOR and ERK1/2 signaling in CRC. The study suggests that intervention with m6A-binding proteins (METTL3 and IGF2BP2/3) may provide a potential diagnostic or prognostic target of VM-based anti-metastasis drugs for CRC.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Humans
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / genetics
  • Methyltransferases / genetics
  • Methyltransferases / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / genetics
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • RNA-Binding Proteins* / metabolism
  • Receptor, EphA2* / genetics
  • Receptor, EphA2* / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A* / genetics
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A* / metabolism


  • IGF2BP2 protein, human
  • IGF2BP3 protein, human
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • VEGFA protein, human
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Methyltransferases
  • METTL3 protein, human
  • Receptor, EphA2
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt