The epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) describes a biological process in which polarized epithelial cells are converted into highly motile mesenchymal cells. It promotes cancer cell dissemination, allowing them to form distal metastases, and also involves drug resistance in metastatic cancers. Transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) is a multifunctional cytokine that plays essential roles in development and carcinogenesis. It is a major inducer of the EMT. The MIR31 host gene (MIR31HG) is a newly identified long non-coding (lnc)RNA that exhibits ambiguous roles in cancer. In this study, a cancer genomics analysis predicted that MIR31HG overexpression was positively correlated with poorer disease-free survival of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) patients, which was associated with upregulation of genes related to TGFβ signaling and the EMT. In vitro evidence demonstrated that TGFβ induced MIR31HG expression in PDAC cells, and knockdown of MIR31HG expression reversed TGFβ-induced EMT phenotypes and cancer cell migration. Therefore, MIR31HG has an oncogenic role in PDAC by promoting the EMT.
Keywords: epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition; long non-coding RNA; metastasis; pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma; transforming growth factor β.