Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma (ESCC) is among the most common malignant cancers worldwide. In the past, extensive efforts have been made to characterize the involvement of protein-coding genes in ESCC tumorigenesis but few for long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs).
To investigate the transcriptome profile and functional relevance of lncRNAs, researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences performed an integrative analysis of a customized combined lncRNA-mRNA microarray and RNA-seq data on ESCCs and matched normal tissues. They identified numerous lncRNAs that were differentially expressed between the normal and tumor tissues, termed “ESCC-associated lncRNAs (ESCALs)”, of which, the majority displayed restricted expression pattern. Also, a subset of ESCALs appeared to be associated with ESCC patient survival. Gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) further suggested that over half of the ESCALs were positively- or negatively- associated with metastasis. Among these, the researchers identified a novel nuclear-retained lncRNA, named Epist, which is generally highly expressed in esophagus, and which is down-regulated during ESCC progression. Epist over-expression and knockdown studies further suggest that Epist inhibits the metastasis, acting as a tumor suppressor in ESCC. Collectively, this analysis of the ESCC transcriptome identified the potential tumor suppressing lncRNA Epist, and provided a foundation for future efforts to identify functional lncRNAs for cancerous therapeutic targeting.
Long noncoding RNAs associated with survival time of ESCC patients. A. The workflow of screening the mRNA and lncRNA probes whose expression level associates the survival time of ESCC patients, as described in Methods. (B, C, D) These panels show the Kaplan–Meier survival curves for three lincRNA examples of them. HOTAIR, linc-TMEM106A and LOC645638.
- Wei G, Luo H, Sun Y, Li J, Tian L, Liu W, Liu L, Luo J, He J, Chen R. (2015) Transcriptome profiling of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma reveals a long noncoding RNA acting as a tumor suppressor. Oncotarget [Epub ahead of print]. [article]