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Open AccessArticle

Oncogenic Role of ZFAS1 lncRNA in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinomas

Department of Cancer Immunology, Chair of Medical Biotechnology, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, 8 Rokietnicka Street, 60-806 Poznan, Poland
Laboratory of Cancer Genetics, Greater Poland Cancer Centre, 15 Garbary Street, Room 5025, 61-866 Poznan, Poland
Postgraduate School of Molecular Medicine, Medical University of Warsaw, 61 Zwirki i Wigury Street, 02-091 Warszawa, Poland
Department of Diagnostics and Cancer Immunology, Greater Poland Cancer Centre, 15 Garbary Street, 61-866 Poznan, Poland
Department of Medical and Experimental Oncology, Heliodor Swiecicki Clinical Hospital, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, 16/18 Grunwaldzka Street, 60-786 Poznan, Poland
Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, 8 Rokietnicka Street, 60-806 Poznan, Poland
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Cells 2019, 8(4), 366;
Received: 19 February 2019 / Revised: 17 April 2019 / Accepted: 18 April 2019 / Published: 21 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue lncRNA and Cancer)
Background: Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is a heterogeneous disease with high mortality. The identification of specific HNSCC biomarkers will increase treatment efficacy and limit the toxicity of current therapeutic strategies. Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are promising biomarkers. Accordingly, here we investigate the biological role of ZFAS1 and its potential as a biomarker in HNSCC. Methods: The expression level of ZFAS1 in HNSCC cell lines was analyzed using qRT-PCR. Based on the HNSCC TCGA data, the ZFAS1 expression profile, clinicopathological features, and expression of correlated genes were analyzed in patient tissue samples. The selected genes were classified according to their biological function using the PANTHER tool. The interaction between lncRNA:miRNA and miRNA:mRNA was tested using available online tools. All statistical analyses were accomplished using GraphPad Prism 5. Results: The expression of ZFAS1 was up-regulated in the metastatic FaDu cell line relative to the less aggressive SCC-25 and SCC-040 and dysplastic DOK cell lines. The TCGA data indicated an up-regulation of ZFAS1 in HNSCCs compared to normal tissue samples. The ZFAS1 levels typically differed depending on the cancer stage and T-stage. Patients with a lower expression of ZFAS1 presented a slightly longer disease-free survival and overall survival. The analysis of genes associated with ZFAS1, as well its targets, indicate that they are linked with crucial cellular processes. In the group of patients with low expression of ZFAS1, we detected the up-regulation of suppressors and down-regulation of genes associated with epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) process, metastases, and cancer-initiating cells. Moreover, the negative correlation between ZFAS1 and its host gene, ZNFX1, was observed. The analysis of interactions indicated that ZFAS1 has a binding sequence for miR-150-5p. The expression of ZFAS1 and miR-150-5p is negatively correlated in HNSCC patients. miR-150-5p can regulate the 3′UTR of EIF4E mRNA. In the group of patients with high expression of ZFAS1 and low expression of miR-150-5p, we detected an up-regulation of EIF4E. Conclusions: In HNSCC, ZFAS1 displays oncogenic properties, regulates important processes associated with EMT, cancer-initiating cells, and metastases, and might affect patients’ clinical outcomes. ZFAS1 likely regulates the cell phenotype through miR-150-5p and its downstream targets. Following further validation, ZFAS1 might prove a new and valuable biomarker. View Full-Text
Keywords: ZFAS1; ZNFX1 antisense RNA 1; lncRNA; non-coding RNA; HNSCC; head and neck cancers; biomarker ZFAS1; ZNFX1 antisense RNA 1; lncRNA; non-coding RNA; HNSCC; head and neck cancers; biomarker
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Kolenda, T.; Guglas, K.; Kopczyńska, M.; Teresiak, A.; Bliźniak, R.; Mackiewicz, A.; Lamperska, K.; Mackiewicz, J. Oncogenic Role of ZFAS1 lncRNA in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinomas. Cells 2019, 8, 366.

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