Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are emerging as key molecules in human cancer. Highly upregulated in liver cancer (HULC), an lncRNA, has recently been revealed to be involved in hepatocellular carcinoma development and progression. It remains unclear, however, whether HULC plays an oncogenic role in human gastric cancer (GC).
In the present study, researchers at the First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University demonstrated that HULC was significantly overexpressed in GC cell lines and GC tissues compared with normal controls, and this overexpression was correlated with lymph node metastasis, distant metastasis and advanced tumor node metastasis stages. In addition, a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was constructed to evaluate the diagnostic values and the area under the ROC curve of HULC was up to 0.769. To uncover its functional importance, gain- and loss-of-function studies were performed to evaluate the effect of HULC on cell proliferation, apoptosis and invasion in vitro. Overexpression of HULC promoted proliferation and invasion and inhibited cell apoptosis in SGC7901 cells, while knockdown of HULC in SGC7901 cells showed the opposite effect. Mechanistically, they discovered that overexpression of HULC could induce patterns of autophagy in SGC7901 cells; more importantly, autophagy inhibition increased overexpression of HULC cell apoptosis. The researchers also determined that silencing of HULC effectively reversed the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) phenotype. In summary, these results suggest that HULC may play an important role in the growth and tumorigenesis of human GC, which provides us with a new biomarker in GC and perhaps a potential target for GC prevention, diagnosis and therapeutic treatment.
- Zhao Y, Guo Q, Chen J, Hu J, Wang S, Sun Y. (2013) Role of long non-coding RNA HULC in cell proliferation, apoptosis and tumor metastasis of gastric cancer: A clinical and in vitro investigation. Oncol Rep [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]