WiNTRLINC1 is a long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) that positively regulates the Wnt pathway via achaete-scute complex homolog 2 (ASCL2) in colorectal cancer. ASCL2 was recently reported to play a critical role in chemoresistance, however clinical relevance of the WiNTRLINC1/ASCL2 axis remains obscure in colon cancer.
PATIENTS AND METHODS:
WiNTRLINC1/ASCL2 expression was investigated at messenger RNA (mRNA) level in 40 primary colon cancer tissues and the corresponding normal mucosa tissues, together with Wnt-related genes (c-Myc/PRL-3) and other lncRNAs (H19, HOTAIR, and MALAT1). Knock-down experiments of WiNTRLINC1 clarified its role in their expression and chemoresistance.
Real-time quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction confirmed definite overexpression of WiNTRLINC1 mRNA in primary colon cancer compared with the corresponding normal colon mucosa tissues (p = 0.0005), such as ASCL2, c-Myc, and PRL-3 (p < 0.0001). The four gene expression signatures were tightly associated in the center of the ASCL2 gene (r = 0.72, p < 0.0001) in clinical samples. WiNTRLINC1 was not significantly associated with prognostic factors in colon cancer and other lncRNAs, while the WiNTRLINC1/ASCL2/c-Myc signatures were unique to young-onset colon cancer with differentiated histology. On the other hand, undifferentiated histology was significantly associated with H19 expression. Knockdown of the WiNTRLINC1 gene reduced the expression of ASCL2/c-Myc, but rather augmented PRL-3 at mRNA level, and robustly affected cell viability in colon cancer cell lines.
The enhanced WiNTRLINC1/ASCL2/c-Myc axis involved in Wnt pathway activation is a common pathway essential for differentiated colon tumorigenesis, especially with young onset, and may be essential for a viable phenotype of colon cancer.