International Journal of Biological Sciences

International Journal of Biological Sciences RSS feed -- Volume 17
  • The Emerging Roles of Autophagy-Related MicroRNAs in Cancer

    Autophagy is a conserved catabolic process involving the degradation and recycling of damaged biomacromolecules or organelles through lysosomal-dependent pathways and plays a crucial role in maintaining cell homeostasis. Consequently, abnormal autophagy is associated with multiple diseases, such as infectious diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. Currently, autophagy is considered to be a dual regulator in cancer, functioning as a suppressor in the early stage while supporting the growth and metastasis of cancer cells in the later stage and may also produce therapeutic resistance. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, non-coding RNA molecules that regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level by silencing targeted mRNA. MiRNAs have great regulatory potential for several fundamental biological processes, including autophagy. In recent years, an increasing number of studies have linked miRNA dysfunction to the growth, metabolism, migration, metastasis, and responses of cancer cells to therapy. Therefore, the study of autophagy-related miRNAs in cancer will provide insights into cancer biology and lead to the development of novel anti-cancer strategies. In the present review, we summarise the current knowledge of miRNA dysregulation during autophagy in cancer, focusing on the relationship between autophagy and miRNAs, and discuss their involvement in cancer biology and cancer treatment.

  • NDRG1 regulates Filopodia-induced Colorectal Cancer invasiveness via modulating CDC42 activity

    N-myc downstream regulated gene-1 (NDRG1) has been identified as a putative metastasis suppressor gene and proved to be a key player in cancer spreading and proliferation in our previous work. However, the effects of NDRG1 on tumor invasion and the mechanisms behind it are rarely understood. Here we provided in silico evidence that NDRG1 plays a crucial role in actin reorganization in colorectal cancer (CRC). Through in vitro experiments, we next observed filopodia formation was altered in NDRG1-modified cell lines, while cell division cycle-42 (CDC42) displayed excessive activation in NDRG1-silenced cells. Mechanistically, NDRG1 loss disrupts the binding between RhoGDIα and CDC42 and triggers the activation of CDC42 and the downstream cascades PAK1/Cofilin, thereby promotes the formation of filopodia and invasiveness of CRC. The knockdown of NDRG1 led to enhanced dissemination of CRC cells in vivo and correlates with active CDC42 expression. Using clinical sample analysis, we found an elevated level of active CDC42 in patients with advanced T stage, and it was negatively related to NDRG1 expression. In sum, these results uncover a mechanism utilized by NDRG1 to regulate CDC42 activity in coordinating cytoskeleton reorganization, which was crucial in cancer invasion.

  • Exosomal circRNAs as novel cancer biomarkers: Challenges and opportunities

    Identifying high specificity and sensitivity biomarkers has always been the focus of research in the field of non-invasive cancer diagnosis. Exosomes are extracellular vesicles with a lipid bilayer membrane that can be released by all types of cells, which contain a variety of proteins, lipids, and a variety of non-coding RNAs. Increasing research has shown that the lipid bilayer can effectively protect the nucleic acid in exosomes. In cancers, tumor cell-derived exosomal circRNAs can act on target cells or organs through the transport of exosomes, and then participate in the regulation of tumor development and metastasis. Since exosomes exist in various body fluids and circRNAs in exosomes exhibit high stability, exosomal circRNAs have the potential as biomarkers for early and minimally invasive cancer diagnosis and prognosis judgment. In this review, we summarized circRNAs and their biological roles in cancers, with the emerging value biomarkers in cancer diagnosis, disease judgment, and prognosis observation. In addition, we briefly compared the advantages of exosomal circRNAs as biomarkers and the current obstacles in the exosome isolation technology, shed light to the future development of this technology.

  • Splicing factor SRSF2-centric gene regulation

    Serine/arginine-rich splicing factor 2 (SRSF2) is a splicing factor that is widely expressed in a variety of mammalian cell types. Increasing evidence has confirmed that SRSF2 plays vital roles in a number of biological and pathological processes. Therefore, it is important to understand how its expression is regulated, and how it regulates the expression of its target genes. Recently, we found that SRSF2 expression could be upregulated by herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) infection, and that altered SRSF2 expression, in turn, epigenetically regulates the transcription of HSV-1 genes. Further studies on T cell exhaustion demonstrated that upregulated SRSF2 in exhausted T cells elevated the levels of multiple immune checkpoint molecules by associating with the acyl-transferases, P300 and CBP, and by altering histone modification near the transcription start sites of these genes, thereby influencing signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 binding to these gene promoters. These findings suggest that SRSF2 acts as an important sensor and effector during disease progression. Here, we discuss the molecules that regulate SRSF2 gene expression and their associated mechanisms, and the mechanisms via which SRSF2 regulates the expression of target genes, thus providing novel insights into the central role of SRSF2 in gene regulation.

  • miR-26b enhances the sensitivity of hepatocellular carcinoma to Doxorubicin via USP9X-dependent degradation of p53 and regulation of autophagy

    Multi-drug resistance is a major challenge to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) treatment, and the over-expression or deletion of microRNA (miRNA) expression is closely related to the drug-resistant properties of various cell lines. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms remain unclear. CCK-8, EdU, flow cytometry, and transmission electron microscopy were performed to determine cell viability, proliferation, apoptosis, autophagic flow, and nanoparticle characterization, respectively. In this study, the results showed that the expression of miR-26b was downregulated following doxorubicin treatment in human HCC tissues. An miR-26b mimic enhanced HCC cell doxorubicin sensitivity, except in the absence of p53 in Hep3B cells. Delivery of the proteasome inhibitor, MG132, reversed the inhibitory effect of miR-26b on the level of p53 following doxorubicin treatment. Tenovin-1 (an MDM2 inhibitor) protected p53 from ubiquitination-mediated degradation only in HepG2 cells with wild type p53. Tenovin-1 pretreatment enhanced HCC cell resistance to doxorubicin when transfected with an miR-26b mimic. Moreover, the miR-26b mimic inhibited doxorubicin-induced autophagy and the autophagy inducer, rapamycin, eliminated the differences in the drug sensitivity effect of miR-26b. In vivo, treatment with sp94dr/miR-26b mimic nanoparticles plus doxorubicin inhibited tumor growth. Our current data indicate that miR-26b enhances HCC cell sensitivity to doxorubicin through diminishing USP9X-mediated p53 de-ubiquitination caused by DNA damaging drugs and autophagy regulation. This miRNA-mediated pathway that modulates HCC will help develop novel therapeutic strategies.