Posttranscriptional silencing of the lncRNA MALAT1 by miR-217 inhibits the epithelial–mesenchymal transition via enhancer of zeste homolog 2 in the malignant transformation of HBE cells induced by cigarette smoke extract

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Lung cancer is regarded as the leading cause of cancer-related deaths, and cigarette smoking is one of the strongest risk factors for the development of lung cancer. However, the mechanisms for cigarette smoke-induced lung carcinogenesis remain unclear. The present study investigated the effects of an miRNA (miR-217) on levels of an lncRNA (MALAT1) and examined the role of these factors in the epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) induced by cigarette smoke extract (CSE) in human bronchial epithelial (HBE) cells. In these cells, CSE caused decreases of miR-217 levels and increases in lncRNA MALAT1 levels. Over-expression of miR-217 with a mimic attenuated the CSE-induced increase of MALAT1 levels, and reduction of miR-217 levels by an inhibitor enhanced expression of MALAT1. Moreover, the CSE-induced increase of MALAT1 expression was blocked by an miR-217 mimic, indicating that miR-217 negatively regulates MALAT1 expression. Knockdown of MALAT1 reversed CSE-induced increases of EZH2 (enhancer of zeste homolog 2) and H3K27me3 levels. In addition to the alteration from epithelial to spindle-like mesenchymal morphology, chronic exposure of HBE cells to CSE increased the levels of EZH2, H3K27me3, vimentin, and N-cadherin and decreased E-cadherin levels, effects that were reversed by MALAT1 siRNA or EZH2 siRNA. The results indicate that miR-217 regulation of EZH2/H3K27me3 via MALAT1 is involved in CSE-induced EMT and malignant transformation of HBE cells. The posttranscriptional silencing of MALAT1 by miR-217 provides a link, through EZH2, between ncRNAs and the EMT and establishes a mechanism for CSE-induced lung carcinogenesis.

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