Pre-45s rRNA promotes colon cancer and is associated with poor survival of CRC patients
One characteristic of cancer cells is the abnormally high rate of cell metabolism to sustain their enhanced proliferation. However, the behind mechanism of this phenomenon is still elusive. Here we find that enhanced precursor 45s ribosomal RNA (pre-45s rRNA) is one of the core mechanisms in promoting the pathogenesis of colorectal cancer (CRC). Pre-45s rRNA expression is significantly higher in primary CRC tumor tissues samples and cancer cell lines compared with the non-tumorous colon tissues, and is associated with tumor sizes. Knockdown of pre-45s rRNA inhibits G1/S cell-cycle transition by stabilizing p53 through inducing murine double minute 2 (MDM2) and ribosomal protein L11 (RpL11) interaction. In addition, we revealed that high rate of cancer cell metabolism triggers the passive release of calcium ion from endoplasmic reticulum to the cytoplasm. The elevated calcium ion in the cytoplasm activates the signaling cascade of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II, ribosomal S6 kinase (S6K) and ribosomal S6K (CaMKII-S6K-UBF). The activated UBF promotes the transcription of rDNA, which therefore increases pre-45s rRNA. Disruption of CaMKII-S6K-UBF axis by either RNAi or pharmaceutical approaches leads to reduction of pre-45s rRNA expression, which subsequently suppresses cell proliferation in colon cancer cells by causing cell-cycle arrest. Knockdown of APC activates CaMKII-S6K-UBF cascade and thus enhances pre-45s rRNA expression. Moreover, the high expression level of pre-45s rRNA is associated with poor survival of CRC patients in two independent cohorts. Our study identifies a novel mechanism in CRC pathogenesis mediated by pre-45s rRNA and a prognostic factor of pre-45s rRNA in CRC patients.