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Oncogenic circ-SLC16A1 promotes progression of non-small cell lung cancer via regulation of the miR-1287-5p/profilin 2 axis.

BACKGROUND: Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are single-stranded RNAs with covalently closed structures that have been implicated in cancer progression. However, the regulatory mechanisms remain largely unclear. So, the aim of this study was to reveal the role and regulatory mechanisms of circ-SLC16A1.

METHODS: In this study, next-generation sequencing was used to identify abnormally expressed circRNAs between cancerous and para-carcinoma tissues. Fluorescence in situ hybridization and quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction were performed to assess the expression patterns of circ-solute carrier family 16 member 1 (SLC16A1) in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells and tissue specimens. The dual-luciferase reporter assay was utilized to identify downstream targets of circ-SLC16A1. Transwell migration, wound healing, 5-ethynyl-2'-deoxyuridine incorporation, cell counting, and colony formation assays were conducted to assess the proliferation and migration of NSCLC cells. A mouse tumor xenograft model was employed to determine the roles of circ-SLC16A1 in NSCLC progression and metastasis in vivo.

RESULTS: The results found that circ-SLC16A1 was upregulated in NSCLC cells and tissues. Downregulation of circ-SLC16A1 inhibited tumor growth by reducing proliferation, lung metastasis, and lymphatic metastasis of NSCLC cells, and arrested the cell cycle in the G1 phase. Also, silencing of circ-SLC16A1 promoted apoptosis of NSCLC cells. The results of bioinformatics analysis and the dual-luciferase reporter assay confirmed that microRNA (miR)-1287-5p and profilin 2 (PFN2) are downstream targets of circ-SLC16A1. PFN2 overexpression or circ-SLC16A1 inhibition restored proliferation and migration of NSCLC cells after silencing of circ-SLC16A1. PFN2 overexpression restored migration and proliferation of NSCLC cells post miR-1287-5p overexpression.

CONCLUSIONS: Collectively, these findings show that miR-1287-5p/PFN2 signaling was associated with downregulation of circ-SLC16A1 and reduced invasion and proliferation of NSCLC cells. So, circ-SLC16A1 is identified as a mediator of multiple pro-oncogenic signaling pathways in NSCLC and can be targeted to suppress tumor progression.

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