Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide and the fourth leading cause of cancer-associated mortality in women. Accumulating evidence indicates that long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) and circular RNAs (circRNAs) may play key roles in the carcinogenesis of different cancers; however, little is known about the mechanisms of lncRNAs and circRNAs in the progression and metastasis of cervical cancer.
In this study, researchers from Huazhong University of Science and Technology explored the expression profiles of lncRNAs, circRNAs, miRNAs, and mRNAs in HPV16 (human papillomavirus genotype 16) mediated cervical squamous cell carcinoma and matched adjacent non-tumor (ATN) tissues from three patients with high-throughput RNA sequencing (RNA-seq). In total, the researchers identified 19 lncRNAs, 99 circRNAs, 28 miRNAs, and 304 mRNAs that were commonly differentially expressed (DE) in different patients. Among the non-coding RNAs, 3 lncRNAs and 44 circRNAs are novel to our knowledge. Functional enrichment analysis showed that DE lncRNAs, miRNAs, and mRNAs were enriched in pathways crucial to cancer as well as other gene ontology (GO) terms. Furthermore, the co-expression network and function prediction suggested that all 19 DE lncRNAs could play different roles in the carcinogenesis and development of cervical cancer. The competing endogenous RNA (ceRNA) network based on DE coding and non-coding RNAs showed that each miRNA targeted a number of lncRNAs and circRNAs. The link between part of the miRNAs in the network and cervical cancer has been validated in previous studies, and these miRNAs targeted the majority of the novel non-coding RNAs, thus suggesting that these novel non-coding RNAs may be involved in cervical cancer.
The ceRNA network, including lncRNAs, miRNAs, and mRNAs, in cervical cancer
(A) The ceRNA network is based on lncRNA/miRNA and miRNA/mRNA interactions. The ceRNA subnetwork of lncRNA LNC_000188 (B) and LNC_000231 (C). The size of each node is proportional to the calculated functional connectivity of each node.
Taken together, this study shows that DE non-coding RNAs could be further developed as diagnostic and therapeutic biomarkers of cervical cancer. The complex ceRNA network also lays the foundation for future research of the roles of coding and non-coding RNAs in cervical cancer.