Fei Luo 1 , 2 , Baofei Sun 3 , Huiqiao Li 4 , Yuan Xu 1 , 2 , 5 , Yi Liu 1 , 2 , Xinlu Liu 1 , 2 , Lu Lu 1 , 2 , Jun Li 3 , Qingling Wang 3 , Shaofeng Wei 3 , Le Shi 1 , 2 , Xiaolin Lu 1 , 2 , Qizhan Liu 1 , 2 , Aihua Zhang 3
31 December 2015
Arsenic is well established as a human carcinogen, but the molecular mechanisms leading to arsenic-induced carcinogenesis are complex and elusive. It is also not known if lncRNAs are involved in arsenic-induced liver carcinogenesis. We have found that MALAT1, a non-coding RNA, is over-expressed in the sera of people exposed to arsenite and in hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs), and MALAT1 has a close relation with the clinicopathological characteristics of HCC. In addition, hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-2α is up-regulated in HCCs, and MALAT1 and HIF-2α have a positive correlation in HCC tissues. During the malignant transformation of human hepatic epithelial (L-02) cells induced by a low concentration (2.0 μM) of arsenite, MALAT1 and HIF-2α are increased. In addition, arsenite-induced MALAT1 causes disassociation of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) protein from HIF-2α, therefore, alleviating VHL-mediated HIF-2α ubiquitination, which causes HIF-2α accumulation. In turn, HIF-2α transcriptionally regulates MALAT1, thus forming a positive feedback loop to ensure expression of arsenite-induced MALAT1 and HIF-2α, which are involved in malignant transformation. Moreover, MALAT1 and HIF-2α promote the invasive and metastatic capacities of arsenite-induced transformed L-02 cells and in HCC-LM3 cells. The capacities of MALAT1 and HIF-2α to promote tumor growth are validated in mouse xenograft models. In mice, arsenite induces an inflammatory response, and MALAT1 and HIF-2α are over-expressed. Together, these findings suggest that the MALAT1/HIF-2α feedback loop is involved in regulation of arsenite-induced malignant transformation. Our results not only confirm a novel mechanism involving reciprocal regulation between MALAT1 and HIF-2α, but also expand the understanding of the carcinogenic potential of arsenite.