A long noncoding RNA critically regulates Bcr-Abl-mediated cellular transformation by acting as a competitive endogenous RNA

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Aberrant expression of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) is associated with various human cancers. However, the role of lncRNAs in Bcr-Abl-mediated chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is unknown. In this study, we performed a comprehensive analysis of lncRNAs in human CML cells using an lncRNA cDNA microarray and identified an lncRNA termed lncRNA-BGL3 that acted as a key regulator of Bcr-Abl-mediated cellular transformation. Notably, we observed that lncRNA-BGL3 was highly induced in response to disruption of Bcr-Abl expression or by inhibiting Bcr-Abl kinase activity in K562 cells and leukemic cells derived from CML patients. Ectopic expression of lncRNA-BGL3 sensitized leukemic cells to undergo apoptosis and inhibited Bcr-Abl-induced tumorigenesis. Furthermore, transgenic (TG) mice expressing lncRNA-BGL3 were generated. We found that TG expression of lncRNA-BGL3 alone in mice was sufficient to impair primary bone marrow transformation by Bcr-Abl. Interestingly, we identified that lncRNA-BGL3 was a target of miR-17, miR-93, miR-20a, miR-20b, miR-106a and miR-106b, microRNAs that repress mRNA of phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN). Further experiments demonstrated that lncRNA-BGL3 functioned as a competitive endogenous RNA for binding these microRNAs to cross-regulate PTEN expression. Additionally, our experiments have begun to address the mechanism of how lncRNA-BGL3 is regulated in the leukemic cells and showed that Bcr-Abl repressed lncRNA-BGL3 expression through c-Myc-dependent DNA methylation. Taken together, these results reveal that Bcr-Abl-mediated cellular transformation critically requires silence of tumor-suppressor lncRNA-BGL3 and suggest a potential strategy for the treatment of Bcr-Abl-positive leukemia.

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