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Exosome circATP8A1 induces macrophage M2 polarization by regulating the miR-1-3p/STAT6 axis to promote gastric cancer progression.

Molecular Cancer 2024 March 9
Circular RNAs (circRNAs) play important roles in gastric cancer progression but the regulatory role of circRNAs in controlling macrophage function remains elusive. Exosomes serve as cargo for circRNAs and play a crucial role as mediators in facilitating communication between cancer cells and the tumor microenvironment. In this study, we found that circATP8A1, a previously unreported circular RNA, is highly expressed in both gastric cancer tissues and exosomes derived from plasma. Increased circATP8A1 was associated with advanced TNM stage and worse prognosis in patients with gastric cancer. We showed that  the circATP8A1 knockdown significantly inhibited gastric cancer proliferation and invasion in vitro and in vivo. Functionally, exosome circATP8A1 induced the M2 polarization of macrophages through the STAT6 pathway instead of the STAT3 pathway. Mechanistically, circATP8A1 was shown to activate the STAT6 pathway through competitive binding to miR-1-3p, as confirmed by Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (FISH), RNA immunoprecipitation, RNA pulldown, and Luciferase reporter assays. The reversal of circATP8A1-induced STAT6 pathway activation and macrophage polarization was observed upon blocking miR-1-3p. Macrophages treated with exosomes from gastric cancer cells overexpressing circATP8A1 were able to promote gastric cancer migration, while knockdown of circATP8A1 reversed these effects in vivo. In summary, exosome-derived circATP8A1 from gastric cancer cells induce macrophages M2 polarization via the circATP8A1/miR-1-3p/STAT6 axis, and tumor progression. Our results highlight circATP8A1 as a potential prognostic biomarker and therapeutic target in gastric cancer.

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