bims-rimeca Biomed News
on RNA methylation in cancer
Issue of 2021‒07‒11
thirteen papers selected by
Sk Ramiz Islam
Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics

  1. Aging (Albany NY). 2021 Jun 16. 13(12): 16287-16315
      N6-methyladenosine (m6A) RNA methylation is associated with malignant tumor progression and is modulated by various m6A RNA methylation regulator proteins. However, its role in endometrial cancer is unclear. In this work, we analyzed sequence, copy number variation, and clinical data obtained from the TCGA database. Expression was validated using real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry. Changes in m6A RNA methylation regulators were closely related to the clinicopathological stage and prognosis of endometrial cancer. In particular, ZC3H13, YTHDC1, and METTL14 were identified as potential markers for endometrial cancer diagnosis and prognosis. The TIMER algorithm indicated that immune cell infiltration correlated with changes in ZC3H13, YTHDC1, and METTL14 expression. Meanwhile, ZC3H13 or YTHDC1 knockdown promoted the proliferation and invasion of endometrial cancer cells. Through gene enrichment analysis, we constructed a regulatory network in order to explore the potential molecular mechanism involving ZC3H13, YTHDC1, and METTL14. Virtual screening predicted interactions of potential therapeutic compounds with METTL14 and YTHDC1. These findings advance the understanding of RNA epigenetic modifications in endometrial cancer while identifying m6A regulators associated with immune infiltration, prognosis, and potential treatment strategies.
    Keywords:  N6-methyladenosine; YTHDC1; ZC3H13; endometrial cancer; immune infiltration
  2. Dis Markers. 2021 ;2021 8859590
      Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide, and N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is a predominant internal modification of RNA in various cancers. We obtained the expression profiles of m6A-related genes for HCC patients from the International Cancer Genome Consortium and The Cancer Genome Atlas datasets. Most of the m6A RNA methylation regulators were confirmed to be differentially expressed among groups stratified by clinical characteristics and tissues. The clinical factors (including stage, grade, and gender) were correlated with the two subgroups (cluster 1/2). We identified an m6A RNA methylation regulator-based signature (including METTL3, YTHDC2, and YTHDF2) that could effectively stratify a high-risk subset of these patients by univariate and LASSO Cox regression, and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis indicated that the signature had a powerful predictive ability. Immune cell analysis revealed that the genes in the signature were correlated with B cell, CD4 T cell, CD8 T cell, dendritic cell, macrophage, and neutrophil. Functional enrichment analysis suggested that these three genes may be involved in genetic and epigenetic events with known links to HCC. Moreover, the nomogram was established based on the signature integrated with clinicopathological features. The calibration curve and the area under ROC also demonstrated the good performance of the nomogram in predicting 3- and 5-year OS in the ICGC and TCGA cohorts. In summary, we demonstrated the vital role of m6A RNA methylation regulators in the initial presentation and progression of HCC and constructed a nomogram which would predict the clinical outcome and provide a basis for individualized therapy.
  3. mBio. 2021 Jul 06. e0106721
      The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is an ongoing global public crisis. Although viral RNA modification has been reported based on the transcriptome architecture, the types and functions of RNA modification are still unknown. In this study, we evaluated the roles of RNA N6-methyladenosine (m6A) modification in SARS-CoV-2. Our methylated RNA immunoprecipitation sequencing (MeRIP-Seq) and Nanopore direct RNA sequencing (DRS) analysis showed that SARS-CoV-2 RNA contained m6A modification. Moreover, SARS-CoV-2 infection not only increased the expression of methyltransferase-like 3 (METTL3) but also altered its distribution. Modification of METTL3 expression by short hairpin RNA or plasmid transfection for knockdown or overexpression, respectively, affected viral replication. Furthermore, the viral key protein RdRp interacted with METTL3, and METTL3 was distributed in both the nucleus and cytoplasm in the presence of RdRp. RdRp appeared to modulate the sumoylation and ubiquitination of METTL3 via an unknown mechanism. Taken together, our findings demonstrated that the host m6A modification complex interacted with viral proteins to modulate SARS-CoV-2 replication. IMPORTANCE Internal chemical modifications of viral RNA play key roles in the regulation of viral replication and gene expression. Although potential internal modifications have been reported in SARS-CoV-2 RNA, the function of the SARS-CoV-2 N6-methyladenosine (m6A) modification in the viral life cycle is unclear. In the current study, we demonstrated that SARS-CoV-2 RNA underwent m6A modification by host m6A machinery. SARS-CoV-2 infection altered the expression pattern of methyltransferases and demethylases, while the expression level of methyltransferase-like 3 (METTL3) and fat mass and obesity-associated protein (FTO) was linked to the viral replication. Further study showed that METTL3 interacted with viral RNA polymerase RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp), which influenced not only the distribution but also the posttranslational modification of METTL3. Our study provided evidence that host m6A components interacted with viral proteins to modulate viral replication.
    Keywords:  N6-methyladenosine; methyltransferase-like 3; respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2; viral replication
  4. Int J Biol Sci. 2021 ;17(9): 2262-2277
      Circular RNA (circRNA) is a type of covalently closed and endogenous non-coding RNA (ncRNA) with tissue- and cell-specific expression patterns generated by a non-canonical splicing event. Previous reports have indicated that circRNAs exert their functions in different ways, thereby participating in various pathophysiological processes. N6 -methyladenosine (m6A) methylation occurs in the N 6-position, which is the most abundant and conserved internal transcriptional modification in eukaryotes, including mRNA and ncRNAs. Accumulating evidences confirm that m6A modification also exists in the circRNA and greatly affects the biological functions of circRNA. Their dysregulated expression can be a cause of various pathophysiological processes, such as spermatogenesis, myoblast differentiation, cancer, cardiovascular disease, mental illness and so on. Understanding the role of m6A-modified circRNAs in pathophysiological processes may contribute to better understanding the physiological mechanisms and develop new biomarkers. This review summarizes the regulatory mechanism of m6A modification on circRNA metabolism and the role of m6A-modified circRNAs in pathophysiological processes. This article may pave the way for a better understanding of the role of epigenetically modified circRNAs in pathophysiological process.
    Keywords:  Biogenesis; Circular RNA; M6A-modified circRNA; N6-methyladenosine (m6A); Pathophysiological processes
  5. Cell Death Discov. 2021 Jun 26. 7(1): 157
      Both N6-methyladenosine (m6A) RNA modification and microRNAs (miRNAs) are common regulatory mechanisms for gene post-transcription by modulating mRNA stability and translation. They also share the same 3'-untranslated regions (UTRs) regions for their target gene. However, little is known about their potential interaction in cell development and biology. Here, we aimed to investigate how m6A regulates the specific miRNA repression during cardiac development and hypertrophy. Our multiple lines of bioinformatic and molecular biological evidence have shown that m6A modification on cardiac miR-133a target sequence promotes miR-133a repressive effect via AGO2-IGF2BP2 (Argonaute 2-Insulin-like growth factor 2 mRNA binding protein 2) complex. Among 139 cardiac miRNAs, only the seed sequence of miR-133a was inversely complement to m6A consensus motif "GGACH" by sequence alignment analysis. Immunofluorescence staining, luciferase reporter, and m6A-RIP (RNA immunoprecipitation) assays revealed that m6A modification facilitated miR-133a binding to and repressing their targets. The inhibition of the miR-133a on cardiac proliferation and hypertrophy could be prevented by silencing of Fto (FTO alpha-ketoglutarate dependent dioxygenase) which induced m6A modification. IGF2BP2, an m6A binding protein, physically interacted with AGO2 and increased more miR-133a accumulation on its target site, which was modified by m6A. In conclusion, our study revealed a novel and precise regulatory mechanism that the m6A modification promoted the repression of specific miRNA during heart development and hypertrophy. Targeting m6A modification might provide a strategy to repair hypertrophic gene expression induced by miR-133a.
  6. Int J Biol Sci. 2021 ;17(9): 2323-2335
      N6-methyladenosine (m6A), the most abundant RNA modification in eukaryotes, plays a pivotal role in regulating many cellular and biological processes. Aberrant m6A modification has recently been involved in carcinogenesis in various cancers, including pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers. It is a heterogeneous malignant disease characterized by a plethora of diverse genetic and epigenetic events. Increasing evidence suggests that dysregulation of m6A regulatory factors, such as methyltransferases, demethylases, and m6A-binding proteins, profoundly affects the development and progression of pancreatic cancer. In addition, m6A regulators and m6A target transcripts may be promising early diagnostic and prognostic cancer biomarkers, as well as therapeutic targets. In this review, we highlight the biological functions and mechanisms of m6A in pancreatic cancer and discuss the potential of m6A modification in clinical applications.
    Keywords:  RNA modification; clinical application; m6A; pancreatic cancer
  7. Front Oncol. 2021 ;11 615296
      Rectal cancer (RC) is the leading cause of tumor-related death among both men and women. The efficacy of immunotherapy for rectal cancer is closely related to the immune infiltration level. The N6-methyladenosine (m6A) modification may play a pivotal role in tumor-immune interactions. However, the roles of m6A-related genes in tumor-immune interactions of rectal cancer remain largely unknown. After an evaluation on the expression levels of m6A-related genes and their correlations with the prognosis of rectal cancer patients, we found that METTL14 was the only gene to be significantly correlated with prognosis in rectal cancer patients. Therefore, we further observed the impact of METTL14 expression and m6A modification on the immune infiltration in rectal cancer. Our study indicates that low expression of the m6A "writer" gene METTL14 in rectal cancer may lead to the downregulation of m6A RNA modification, thus reducing the level of immune cell infiltration and resulting in poor prognosis. METTL14 expression level is an independent prognostic factor in rectal cancer and is positively correlated with the immune infiltration level. Our study identified METTL14 as a potential target for enhancing immunotherapy efficacy in rectal cancer.
    Keywords:  METTL14; immune infiltration; immunotherapy; m6A; rectal cancer
  8. Oncogene. 2021 Jul 03.
      Fat mass and obesity-associated protein (FTO), an N6-methyladenosine (m6A) demethylase, participates in tumor progression and metastasis in many malignancies, but its role in colorectal cancer (CRC) is still unclear. Here, we found that FTO protein levels, but not RNA levels, were downregulated in CRC tissues. Reduced FTO protein expression was correlated with a high recurrence rate and poor prognosis in resectable CRC patients. Moreover, we demonstrated that hypoxia restrained FTO protein expression, mainly due to an increase in ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation. The serine/threonine kinase receptor associated protein (STRAP) might served as the E3 ligase and K216 was the major ubiquitination site responsible for hypoxia-induced FTO degradation. FTO inhibited CRC metastasis both in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, FTO exerted a tumor suppressive role by inhibiting metastasis-associated protein 1 (MTA1) expression in an m6A-dependent manner. Methylated MTA1 transcripts were recognized by an m6A "reader", insulin-like growth factor 2 mRNA binding protein 2 (IGF2BP2), which then stabilized its mRNA. Together, our findings highlight the critical role of FTO in CRC metastasis and reveal a novel epigenetic mechanism by which the hypoxic tumor microenvironment promotes CRC metastasis.
  9. Dis Markers. 2021 ;2021 5576683
      Background: N6-methyladenosine (m6A) modification plays an essential role in diverse key biological processes and may take part in the development and progression of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Here, we systematically analyzed the expression profiles and prognostic values of 13 widely reported m6A modification-related genes in HCC.Methods: The mRNA expression of 13 m6A modification-related genes and clinical parameters of HCC patients were downloaded from TCGA, ICGC, GSE109211, and GSE78220. Univariate and LASSO analyses were used to develop risk signature. Time-dependent ROC was performed to assess the predictive accuracy and sensitivity of risk signature.
    Results: FTO, YTHDC1, YTHDC2, ALKBH5, KIAA1429, HNRNPC, METTL3, RBM15, YTHDF2, YTHDF1, and WTAP were significantly overexpressed in HCC patients. YTHDF1, HNRNPC, RBM15, METTL3, and YTHDF2 were independent prognostic factors for OS and DFS in HCC patients. Next, a risk signature was also developed and validated with five m6A modification-related genes in TCGA and ICGC HCC cohort. It could effectively stratify HCC patients into high-risk patients with shorter OS and DFS and low-risk patients with longer OS and DFS and showed good predictive efficiency in predicting OS and DFS. Moreover, significantly higher proportions of macrophages M0 cells, neutrophils, and Tregs were found to be enriched in HCC patients with high risk scores, while significantly higher proportions of memory CD4 T cells, gamma delta T cells, and naive B cells were found to be enriched in HCC patients with low scores. Finally, significantly lower risk scores were found at sorafenib treatment responders and anti-PD-1 immunotherapy responders compared to that in nonresponders, and anti-PD-1 immunotherapy-treated patients with lower risk scores had better OS than patients with higher risk scores.
    Conclusion: A risk signature developed with the expression of 5 m6A-related genes could improve the prediction of prognosis of HCC and correlated with sorafenib treatment and anti-PD-1 immunotherapy response.
  10. J Neuroinflammation. 2021 Jul 05. 18(1): 149
      BACKGROUND: Microglia are key regulators of the inflammatory response in the brain. Adenosine in RNAs can be converted to m6A (N6-methyladenosine), which regulates RNA metabolism and functions as a key epitranscriptomic modification. The m6A modification pattern and m6A-related signatures under pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory conditions of microglia remain unclear.METHODS: Primary rat microglia were differentiated into pro-inflammatory M1-like (M1-L), anti-inflammatory M2-like (M2-L), and resting, unstimulated (M0-L) phenotypes. m6A mRNA and lncRNA epitranscriptomic microarray analyses were performed, and pathway analysis was conducted to understand the functional implications of m6A methylation in mRNAs and lncRNAs. The m6A methylation level and gene expression of mRNAs and lncRNAs were subsequently verified by m6A Me-RIP and qRT-PCR.
    RESULTS: A total of 1588 mRNAs and 340 lncRNAs, 315 mRNAs and 38 lncRNAs, and 521 mRNAs and 244 lncRNAs were differentially m6A methylated between M1-L and M0-L (M1-L/M0-L), M2-L and M0-L (M2-L/M0-L), M2-L and M1-L (M2-L/M1-L), respectively. Furthermore, 4902 mRNAs, 4676 mRNAs, and 5095 mRNAs were identified distinctively expressed in M1-L/M0-L, M2-L/M0-L, and M2-L/M1-L, respectively. Pathway analysis of differentially m6A methylated mRNAs and lncRNAs in M1-L/M0-L identified immune system, signal transduction, and protein degradation processes. In contrast, the distinct m6A methylated mRNAs in M2-L/M0-L were involved in genetic information processing, metabolism, cellular processes, and neurodegenerative disease-related pathways. We validated m6A methylation and the expression levels of five mRNAs and five lncRNAs, which were involved in upregulated pathways in M1-L/M0-L, and five mRNAs involved in upregulated pathways in M2-L/M0-L.
    CONCLUSIONS: These findings identify a distinct m6A epitranscriptome in microglia, and which may serve as novel and useful regulator during pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory response of microglia.
    Keywords:  Bioinformatics analysis; Inflammatory response; Methylated m6A RNA immunoprecipitation; Microarray; Microglia; Phenotype; Polarization; m6A lncRNA; m6A mRNA
  11. Cancer Cell Int. 2021 Jul 08. 21(1): 363
      BACKGROUND: Both N6-methyladenosine (m6A) modification and lncRNAs play an important role in the carcinogenesis and cancer inhibition of ovarian cancer (OC). However, lncRNAs involved in m6A regulation (LI-m6As) have never been reported in OC. Herein, we aimed to identify and validate a signature based on LI-m6A for OC.METHODS: RNA sequencing profiles with corresponding clinical information associated with OC and 23 m6A regulators were extracted from TCGA. The Pearson correlation coefficient (PCC) between lncRNAs and 23 m6A regulators (|PCC|> 0.4 and p < 0.01) was calculated to identify LI-m6As. The LI-m6As with significant prognostic value were screened based on univariate Cox regression analysis to construct a risk model by LASSO Cox regression. Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA) was implemented to survey the biological functions of the risk groups. Several clinicopathological characteristics were utilized to evaluate their ability to predict prognosis, and a nomogram was constructed to evaluate the accuracy of survival prediction. Besides, immune microenvironment, checkpoint, and drug sensitivity in the two risk groups were compared using comprehensive algorithms. Finally, real-time qPCR analysis and cell counting kit-8 assays were performed on an alternative lncRNA, CACNA1G-AS1.
    RESULTS: The training cohort involving 258 OC patients and the validation cohort involving 111 OC patients were downloaded from TCGA. According to the PCC between the m6A regulators and lncRNAs, 129 LI-m6As were obtained to perform univariate Cox regression analysis and then 10 significant prognostic LI-m6As were identified. A prognostic signature containing four LI-m6As (AC010894.3, ACAP2-IT1, CACNA1G-AS1, and UBA6-AS1) was constructed according to the LASSO Cox regression analysis of the 10 LI-m6As. The prognostic signature was validated to show completely opposite prognostic value in the two risk groups and adverse overall survival (OS) in several clinicopathological characteristics. GSEA indicated that differentially expressed genes in disparate risk groups were enriched in several tumor-related pathways. At the same time, we found significant differences in some immune cells and chemotherapeutic agents between the two groups. An alternative lncRNA, CACNA1G-AS1, was proven to be upregulated in 30 OC specimens and 3 OC cell lines relative to control. Furthermore, knockdown of CACNA1G-AS1 was proven to restrain the multiplication capacity of OC cells.
    CONCLUSIONS: Based on the four LI-m6As (AC010894.3, ACAP2-IT1, CACNA1G-AS1, and UBA6-AS1), the risk model we identified can independently predict the OS and therapeutic value of OC. CACNA1G-AS1 was preliminarily proved to be a malignant lncRNA.
    Keywords:  Cell function assays; N6-methyladenosine modification; Ovarian cancer; Risk score model; lncRNA
  12. Future Med Chem. 2021 Jul 09.
      Studies have shown that the FTO gene is closely related to obesity and weight gain in humans. FTO is an N6-methyladenosine demethylase and is linked to an increased risk of obesity and a variety of diseases, such as acute myeloid leukemia, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, glioblastoma and cervical squamous cell carcinoma. In light of the significant role of FTO, the development of small-molecule inhibitors targeting the FTO protein provides not only a powerful tool for grasping the active site of FTO but also a theoretical basis for the design and synthesis of drugs targeting the FTO protein. This review focuses on the structural characteristics of FTO inhibitors and discusses the occurrence of obesity and cancer caused by FTO gene overexpression.
    Keywords:  FTO; demethylase; inhibitor; structure
  13. ChemMedChem. 2021 Jul 08.
      The methylase METTL3 is the writer enzyme of the N 6 -methyladenosine (m 6 A) modification of RNA. Using a structure-based drug discovery approach, we identified a METTL3 inhibitor with potency in a biochemical assay of 280 nM, while its enantiomer is 100 times less active. We observed a dose-dependent reduction in the m 6 A methylation level of mRNA in several cell lines treated with the inhibitor already after 16 h of treatment, which lasted for at least 6 days. Importantly, the prolonged incubation (up to 6 days) with the METTL3 inhibitor did not alter levels of other RNA modifications ( i.e. , m1A, m 6 A m , m 7 G), suggesting selectivity of the developed compound towards other RNA methyltransferases.
    Keywords:  METTL3 * RNA methyltransferase inhibitor * epitranscriptomics * m6A * leukemia