Long non-coding RNA containing ultraconserved genomic region 8 promotes bladder cancer tumorigenesis

Michele Olivieri, Matteo Ferro, Sara Terreri, Montano Durso, Alessandra Romanelli, Concetta Avitabile, Ottavio De Cobelli, Anna Messere, Dario Bruzzese, Ivan Vannini, Luciana Marinelli, Ettore Novellino, Wei Zhang, Mariarosaria Incoronato, Gennaro Ilardi, S. Staibano, L. Marra, Renato Franco, Sisto Perdonà, Daniela TerraccianoBogdan Czerniak, Giovanna L. Liguori, Vincenza Colonna, Muller Fabbri, Ferdinando Febbraio, George A. Calin, Amelia Cimmino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ultraconserved regions (UCRs) have been shown to originate non-coding RNA transcripts (T-UCRs) that have different expression profiles and play functional roles in the pathophysiology of multiple cancers. The relevance of these functions to the pathogenesis of bladder cancer (BlCa) is speculative. To elucidate this relevance, we first used genome-wide profiling to evaluate the expression of T-UCRs in BlCa tissues. Analysis of two datasets comprising normal bladder tissues and BlCa specimens with a custom T-UCR microarray identified ultraconserved RNA (uc.) 8+ as the most upregulated T-UCR in BlCa tissues, although its expression was lower than in pericancerous bladder tissues. These results were confirmed on BlCa tissues by real-time PCR and by in situ hybridization. Although uc.8+ is located within intron 1 of CASZ1, a zinc-finger transcription factor, the transcribed non-coding RNA encoding uc.8+ is expressed independently of CASZ1. In vitro experiments evaluating the effects of uc.8+ silencing, showed significantly decreased capacities for cancer cell invasion, migration, and proliferation. From this, we proposed and validated a model of interaction in which uc.8+ shuttles from the nucleus to the cytoplasm of BlCa cells, interacts with microRNA (miR)-596, and cooperates in the promotion and development of BlCa. Using computational analysis, we investigated the miR-binding domain accessibility, as determined by base-pairing interactions within the uc.8+ predicted secondary structure, RNA binding affinity, and RNA species abundance in bladder tissues and showed that uc.8+ is a natural decoy for miR-596. Thus uc.8+ upregulation results in increased expression of MMP9, increasing the invasive potential of BlCa cells. These interactions between evolutionarily conserved regions of DNA suggest that natural selection has preserved this potentially regulatory layer that uses RNA to modulate miR levels, opening up the possibility for development of useful markers for early diagnosis and prognosis as well as for development of new RNA-based cancer therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20636-20654
Number of pages19
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - Apr 12 2016


  • Bladder cancer
  • CASZ1
  • MicroRNA
  • MMP9
  • T-UCR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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