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Hsa-microRNA-215 (hsa-miR-215) plays multiple roles in carcinogenesis through regulating its target genes. Genetic variants in hsa-miR-215 target sites thus may affect hsa-miR-215-mRNA interactions, result in altered expression of target genes and even influence cancer susceptibility. This study aimed to investigate the associations of genetic variants which located in the binding sites of hsa-miR-215 with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) susceptibility in the Chinese population and reveal the potential regulatory mechanism of functional variants in NSCLC development. The candidate genetic variants were predicted and screened through bioinformatics analysis based on the degree of complementarity of hsa-miR-215 sequences. The potential effects of genetic variants on the binding ability of hsa-miR-215 and target genes were also predicted. A case-control study with 932 NSCLC patients and 1036 healthy controls was conducted to evaluate the association of candidate genetic variants with NSCLC susceptibility, and an independent case-control study with 552 NSCLC cases and 571 controls were used to further validate the promising associations. Dual luciferase reporter gene assay was applied to explore the regulation of the genetic variants on transcription activity of target gene. Cell phenotyping experiments in vitro and RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) were then carried out to preliminarily explore the potential regulatory mechanisms of the target genes in NSCLC. A total of five candidate genetic variants located in the binding sites of hsa-miR-215 were screened. The two-stage case-control study showed that a variant rs1854268 A > T, which located in the 3' untranslated (3'UTR) region of NDUFAF4 gene, was associated with decreased risk of NSCLC (additive model, odds ratio [OR] = 0.83, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.75-0.92, p < 0.001). Functional annotation displayed that rs1854268 A > T might downregulate the expression of NDUFAF4 by enhancing the binding affinity of hsa-miR-215-5p to NDUFAF4 mRNA. Additionally, transient knockdown of the NDUFAF4 could inhibit lung cancer cell migration and promote lung cancer cell apoptosis. Further RNA-seq analysis revealed that the knockdown of NDUFAF4 may affect NSCLC development by downregulating the nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) and phosphoinositide 3 kinase-AKT (PI3K-AKT) signaling pathways. Moreover, the overexpression of CCND1 could partially attenuate the effects of NDUFAF4 knock down on lung cancer cell migration and apoptosis, indicating that CCND1 may be involved in the tumor-promoting effects of NDUFAF4 as a downstream molecule of NDUFAF4 gene. In conclusion, the genetic variant rs1854268 (A > T) on NDUFAF4 confers NSCLC susceptibility by altering the binding affinity of hsa-miR-215-5p, thus regulating the expression of NDUFAF4 and subsequently influencing downstream tumor molecules and pathways such as CCND1, NF kappa B, and PI3K-AKT signaling pathways. © 2023 Wiley Periodicals LLC.

Citation

Tingting Long, Jiaoyuan Li, Tongxin Yin, Ke Liu, Yi Wang, Jieyi Long, Jianing Wang, Liming Cheng. A genetic variant in gene NDUFAF4 confers the risk of non-small cell lung cancer by perturbing hsa-miR-215 binding. Molecular carcinogenesis. 2024 Jan;63(1):145-159

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PMID: 37787384

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