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Signaling in and out: long-noncoding RNAs in tumor hypoxia

Tse-Chun Kuo, Hsing-Jien Kung,
Journal of Biomedical Science , Volume 27, pp 1-25; doi:10.1186/s12929-020-00654-x

Abstract: Over the past few years, long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are recognized as key regulators of gene expression at chromatin, transcriptional and posttranscriptional level with pivotal roles in various biological and pathological processes, including cancer. Hypoxia, a common feature of the tumor microenvironment, profoundly affects gene expression and is tightly associated with cancer progression. Upon tumor hypoxia, the central regulator HIF (hypoxia-inducible factor) is upregulated and orchestrates transcription reprogramming, contributing to aggressive phenotypes in numerous cancers. Not surprisingly, lncRNAs are also transcriptional targets of HIF and serve as effectors of hypoxia response. Indeed, the number of hypoxia-associated lncRNAs (HALs) identified has risen sharply, illustrating the expanding roles of lncRNAs in hypoxia signaling cascade and responses. Moreover, through extra-cellular vesicles, lncRNAs could transmit hypoxia responses between cancer cells and the associated microenvironment. Notably, the aberrantly expressed cellular or exosomal HALs can serve as potential prognostic markers and therapeutic targets. In this review, we provide an update of the current knowledge about the expression, involvement and potential clinical impact of lncRNAs in tumor hypoxia, with special focus on their unique molecular regulation of HIF cascade and hypoxia-induced malignant progression.
Keywords: lncRNA / extracellular vesicles / HAL / Long non-coding RNA / tumor hypoxia / HIF-1α / Hypoxia-associated lncRNAs

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