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The evolutionarily conserved long non-coding RNA LINC00261 drives neuroendocrine prostate cancer proliferation and metastasis via distinct nuclear and cytoplasmic mechanisms

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  • Rebecca L. Mather
  • Abhijit Parolia
  • Sandra E. Carson
  • Erik Venalainen
  • David Roig-Carles
  • Mustapha Jaber
  • Shih Chun Chu
  • Ilaria Alborelli
  • Rebecca Wu
  • Dong Lin
  • Noushin Nabavi
  • Elena Jachetti
  • Mario P. Colombo
  • Hui Xue
  • Perla Pucci
  • Xinpei Ci
  • Yinglei Li
  • Hardev Pandha
  • Igor Ulitsky
  • Crystal Marconett
  • Luca Quagliata
  • Wei Jiang
  • Ignacio Romero
  • Yuzhuo Wang
  • Francesco Crea
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/07/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Molecular Oncology
Issue number7
Number of pages21
Pages (from-to)1921-1941
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date26/04/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Metastatic neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NEPC) is a highly aggressive disease, whose incidence is rising. Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) represent a large family of disease- and tissue-specific transcripts, most of which are still functionally uncharacterized. Thus, we set out to identify the highly conserved lncRNAs that play a central role in NEPC pathogenesis. To this end, we performed transcriptomic analyses of donor-matched patient-derived xenograft models (PDXs) with immunohistologic features of prostate adenocarcinoma (AR+/PSA+) or NEPC (AR/SYN+/CHGA+) and through differential expression analyses identified lncRNAs that were upregulated upon neuroendocrine transdifferentiation. These genes were prioritized for functional assessment based on the level of conservation in vertebrates. Here, LINC00261 emerged as the top gene with over 3229-fold upregulation in NEPC. Consistently, LINC00261 expression was significantly upregulated in NEPC specimens in multiple patient cohorts. Knockdown of LINC00261 in PC-3 cells dramatically attenuated its proliferative and metastatic abilities, which are explained by parallel downregulation of CBX2 and FOXA2 through distinct molecular mechanisms. In the cell cytoplasm, LINC00261 binds to and sequesters miR-8485 from targeting the CBX2 mRNA, while inside the nucleus, LINC00261 functions as a transcriptional scaffold to induce SMAD-driven expression of the FOXA2 gene. For the first time, these results demonstrate hyperactivation of the LINC00261-CBX2-FOXA2 axes in NEPC to drive proliferation and metastasis, and that LINC00261 may be utilized as a therapeutic target and a biomarker for this incurable disease.