By Daniel Walocha ‘19
Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) serve normal cell functions in growth, differentiation, and controlled cell death. The lncRNA’s are modulated in cancer cells to provide a pro-survival, oncogenic role in many different types of cancer. However, lncRNA’s have also been seen, when unchanged, to provide tumor suppressive activities in normal cells. Nuclear paraspeckle assembly transcript 1 (NEAT 1) is a lncRNA that functions to regulate gene expression by nuclear retention and has been found to be overexpressed in tumors. The same lncRNA has been found to function to suppress tumor activity in acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL).
Dr. Shufen Li et al. have described and illustrated the versatile nature of lncRNAs in cancers using NEAT1 as a model. Using Genotype-Tissue Expression and Cancer Genome Atlas data, the research team identified over 30 different types of cancer in which the NEAT1 was overexpressed – particularly in carcinomas. It has been found that the exact function ranges from regulation of cell proliferation, apoptosis, metastasis, tumor permeability, and more. Patients with overexpressed NEAT1 with carcinomas were found to have a poor prognosis, but its potential for therapeutic intervention is still unclear since its gene regulation products have not been fully researched.
Further data is needed to classify lncRNA NEAT1 as an oncogene or tumor repressor or somewhere in between. Future studies involving RNA-seq and microarray data could further the comprehension of their role in cancers. Case studies with lncRNA mutations could also aid in their understanding.
- S. Li, et al., Pan-cancer analysis of long non-coding RNA NEAT1 in various cancers. Genes & Diseases 5, 27-35 (2018). doi: 10.1016/j.gendis.2017.11.003.
- Image retrieved from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ajc1/7314255232