N6-methyladenosine demethylase ALKBH5 suppresses colorectal cancer progression potentially by decreasing PHF20 mRNA methylation

Clin Transl Med. 2022 Aug;12(8):e940. doi: 10.1002/ctm2.940.


Background: As the most widespread mRNAs modification, N6-methyladenosine (m6 A) is dynamically and reversibly modulated by methyltransferases and demethylases. ALKBH5 is a major demethylase, and plays vital roles in the progression of cancers. However, the role and mechanisms of ALKBH5 in colorectal cancer (CRC) is unclear.

Results: Herein, we discovered that in CRC, downregulated ALKBH5 was closely related to poor prognosis of CRC patients. Functionally, our results demonstrated that knockdown of ALKBH5 enhanced the proliferation, migration and invasion of LOVO and RKO in vitro, while overexpression of ALKBH5 inhibited the functions of these cells. The results also demonstrated that knockdown of ALKBH5 promoted subcutaneous tumorigenesis of LOVO in vivo, while overexpression of ALKBH5 suppressed this ability. Mechanistically, results from joint analyses of MeRIP-seq and RNA-seq indicated that PHF20 mRNA was a key molecule that was regulated by ALKBH5-mediated m6 A modification. Further experiments indicated that ALKBH5 may inhibit stability of PHF20 mRNA by removing the m6 A modification of PHF20 mRNA 3'UTR.

Conclusions: ALKBH5 suppresses CRC progression by decreasing PHF20 mRNA methylation. ALKBH5-mediated m6 A modification of PHF20 mRNA can serve as a hopeful strategy for the intervention and treatment of CRC.

Keywords: ALKBH5; PHF20; colorectal cancer; m6A modification.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine / analogs & derivatives
  • AlkB Homolog 5, RNA Demethylase* / genetics
  • AlkB Homolog 5, RNA Demethylase* / metabolism
  • Carcinogenesis
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Humans
  • Methylation
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • PHF20 protein, human
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Transcription Factors
  • N-methyladenosine
  • ALKBH5 protein, human
  • AlkB Homolog 5, RNA Demethylase
  • Adenosine