Therapeutic potential of FLANC, a novel primate-specific long non-coding RNA in colorectal cancer

Martin Pichler, Cristian Rodriguez-Aguayo, Su Youn Nam, Mihnea Paul Dragomir, Recep Bayraktar, Simone Anfossi, Erik Knutsen, Cristina Ivan, Enrique Fuentes-Mattei, Sang Kil Lee, Hui Ling, Tina Catela Ivkovic, Guoliang Huang, Li Huang, Yoshinaga Okugawa, Hiroyuki Katayama, Ayumu Taguchi, Emine Bayraktar, Rajat Bhattacharya, Paola AmeroWilliam Ruixian He, Anh M. Tran, Petra Vychytilova-Faltejskova, Christiane Klec, Diana L. Bonilla, Xinna Zhang, Sanja Kapitanovic, Bozo Loncar, Roberta Gafà, Zhihui Wang, Vittorio Cristini, Samir M. Hanash, Menashe Bar-Eli, Giovanni Lanza, Ondrej Slaby, Ajay Goel, Isidore Rigoutsos, Gabriel Lopez-Berestein, George Adrian Calin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


Objective To investigate the function of a novel primate-specific long non-coding RNA (lncRNA), named FLANC, based on its genomic location (co-localised with a pyknon motif), and to characterise its potential as a biomarker and therapeutic target. Design FLANC expression was analysed in 349 tumours from four cohorts and correlated to clinical data. In a series of multiple in vitro and in vivo models and molecular analyses, we characterised the fundamental biological roles of this lncRNA. We further explored the therapeutic potential of targeting FLANC in a mouse model of colorectal cancer (CRC) metastases. Results FLANC, a primate-specific lncRNA feebly expressed in normal colon cells, was significantly upregulated in cancer cells compared with normal colon samples in two independent cohorts. High levels of FLANC were associated with poor survival in two additional independent CRC patient cohorts. Both in vitro and in vivo experiments demonstrated that the modulation of FLANC expression influenced cellular growth, apoptosis, migration, angiogenesis and metastases formation ability of CRC cells. In vivo pharmacological targeting of FLANC by administration of 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphatidylcholine nanoparticles loaded with a specific small interfering RNA, induced significant decrease in metastases, without evident tissue toxicity or pro-inflammatory effects. Mechanistically, FLANC upregulated and prolonged the half-life of phosphorylated STAT3, inducing the overexpression of VEGFA, a key regulator of angiogenesis. Conclusions Based on our findings, we discovered, FLANC as a novel primate-specific lncRNA that is highly upregulated in CRC cells and regulates metastases formation. Targeting primate-specific transcripts such as FLANC may represent a novel and low toxic therapeutic strategy for the treatment of patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1818-1831
Number of pages14
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Oct 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding gac is the Felix l. endowed Professor in Basic science. Work in gac’s laboratory is supported by national institutes of health (nih/ncaTs) grant Uh3Tr00943-01 through the nih common Fund, Office of strategic coordination (Osc), the nci grants 1r01 ca182905-01 and 1r01ca222007-01a1, an nigMs 1r01gM122775-01 grant, a U54 grant #ca096297/ca096300 – UPr/MDacc Partnership for excellence in cancer research 2016 Pilot Project, a Team DOD (ca160445P1) grant, a ladies leukemia league grant, a chronic lymphocytic leukemia Moonshot Flagship project, a sister institution network Fund (sinF) 2017 grant and the estate of c. g. Johnson Jr. gh was supported by china scholarship council. cr-a was supported by the nih through the Ovarian sPOre career enhancement Program, the nci grants FP00000019. MP was supported by an erwin schroedinger scholarship of the austrian science Funds (no. J3389-B23). ZW and Vc were supported from the national science Foundation grant DMs-1930583, the nih grants 1U01ca196403, 1U01ca213759, 1r01ca226537, 1r01ca222007 and U54ca210181. gl-B is the John Q. gaines Professor of cancer research. ag’s work was supported by the grants ca72851, ca181572, ca184792 and ca187956 from the national cancer institute, national institute of health. ir is the richard hevner Professor in computational Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University. ir’s work was partially supported by a William M. Keck Foundation grant and by institutional Funds. The Functional Proteomics rPPa core facility and the Flow cytometry and cellular imaging core Facility (FccicF) are supported by nci cancer center support grant P30ca16672. aMT was supported by the cPriT research Training Program (rP170067).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 BMJ Publishing Group. All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gastroenterology


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