Caprin-1 plays a role in cell proliferation and Warburg metabolism of esophageal carcinoma by regulating METTL3 and WTAP

J Transl Med. 2023 Feb 28;21(1):159. doi: 10.1186/s12967-023-04001-0.


Background: Cytoplasmic activation/proliferation-associated protein-1 (Caprin-1) is implicated in cancer cell proliferation and tumorigenesis; however, its role in the development of esophageal carcinoma (ESCA) has not been examined.

Methods: Biological methods and data analysis were used to investigate the expression of Caprin-1 in ESCA tissue and cell lines. We comprehensively analyzed the mRNA expression and prognostic values, signalling pathways of CAPRIN1 in ESCA using public databases online. Biological functions of CAPRIN1 were performed by clorimetric growth assay, EdU staining, colony formation, flow cytometry, apoptosis analysis, Western blot, lactate detection assay, extracellular acidification rates. The underlying mechanism was determined via flow cytometric analysis, Western blot and rescue experiments. In addition, xenograft tumor model was constructed to verify the phenotypes upon CAPRIN1 silencing.

Results: Caprin-1 expression was significantly elevated in both ESCA tumor tissues and cell lines compared with that in normal adjacent tissues and fibroblasts. Increased CAPRIN1 mRNA expression was significantly associated with clinical prognosis and diagnostic accuracy. The GO enrichment and KEGG pathway analysis CAPRIN1 might be related to immune-related terms, protein binding processes, and metabolic pathways. A significant positive correlation was observed between high Caprin-1 protein levels and lymph node metastasis (P = 0.031), ki-67 (P = 0.023), and 18F- FDG PET/CT parameters (SUVmax (P = 0.002) and SUV mean (P = 0.005)) in 55 ESCA patients. At cut-off values of SUVmax 17.71 and SUVmean 10.14, 18F- FDG PET/CT imaging predicted Caprin-1 expression in ESCA samples with 70.8% sensitivity and 77.4% specificity. In vitro and in vivo assays showed that Caprin-1 knockdown affected ESCA tumor growth. Silencing Caprin-1 inhibited ESCA cell proliferation and glycolysis, and decreased the expression of methyltransferase-like 3 (METTL3) and Wilms' tumor 1-associating protein (WTAP). However, this effect could be partially reversed by the restoration of METTL3 and WTAP expression.

Conclusions: Our data suggest that Caprin-1 could serve as a prognostic biomarker and has an oncogenic role in ESCA.

Keywords: 18F-FDG-PET; Caprin-1; Esophageal carcinoma; Glucose metabolism; Methyltransferase-like 3; Wilms’ tumor 1-associating protein.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma*
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Cell Proliferation / genetics
  • Esophageal Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Humans
  • Methyltransferases / genetics
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography
  • RNA Splicing Factors
  • RNA, Messenger


  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • RNA, Messenger
  • METTL3 protein, human
  • Methyltransferases
  • WTAP protein, human
  • RNA Splicing Factors
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • CAPRIN1 protein, human