Mounting evidences indicate that circular RNAs (circRNAs) play vital roles in the development and progression of various cancers. However, the detail functions and underlying mechanisms of circRNAs in gastric cancer remain largely unknown.
The expression profile of metastasis-related circRNAs was screened by RNA-seq analysis. qRT-PCR was used to determine the level and prognostic values of circNHSL1 in gastric cancer tissues. In vitro cell wound healing and transwell (migration and invasion) and in vivo tumorigenesis and metastasis assays were performed to evaluate the functions of circNHSL1. Luciferase reporter, RNA immunoprecipitation (RIP) and rescued assays were employed to confirm the interactions between circNHSL1, miR-1306-3p and SIX1. It’s widely accepted that as a mesenchymal marker, Vimentin promotes invasion and metastasis in various cancers. Luciferase reporter assay was used to determine the regulation of SIX1 on Vimentin. In addition, In situ hybridization (ISH) was performed to detect the level and prognostic values of miR-1306-3p.
We found that the level of circNHSL1 was significantly up-regulated in gastric cancer, and positively correlated with clinicopathological features and poor prognosis of patients with gastric cancer. Functionally, circNHSL1 promoted cell mobility and invasion, as well as in vivo tumorgenesis and metastasis. Mechanistically, circNHSL1 acted as a miR-1306-3p sponge to relieve the repressive effect of miR-1306-3p on its target SIX1. Moreover, SIX1 enhanced Vimentin expression in the transcriptional level through directly binding to the promoter domain of Vimentin, thereby promoting cell migration and invasion. In addition, miR-1306-3p was down-regulated and negatively correlated with pathological features and poor prognosis in gastric cancer.
CircNHSL1 promotes gastric cancer progression through miR-1306-3p/SIX1/Vimentin axis, and may serve as a novel diagnostic marker and target for treatment of gastric cancer patients.