Epithelial-mesenchymal transition and cancer stem cells, mediated by a long non-coding RNA, HOTAIR, are involved in cell malignant transformation induced by cigarette smoke extract

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The incidence of lung diseases, including cancer, caused by cigarette smoke is increasing, but the molecular mechanisms of gene regulation induced by cigarette smoke remain unclear. This report describes a long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) that is induced by cigarette smoke extract (CSE) and experiments utilizing lncRNAs to integrate inflammation with the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in human bronchial epithelial (HBE) cells. The present study shows that, induced by CSE, IL-6, a pro-inflammatory cytokine, leads to activation of STAT3, a transcription activator. A ChIP assay determined that the interaction of STAT3 with the promoter regions of HOX transcript antisense RNA (HOTAIR) increased levels of HOTAIR. Blocking of IL-6 with anti-IL-6 antibody, decreasing STAT3, and inhibiting STAT3 activation reduced HOTAIR expression. Moreover, for HBE cells cultured in the presence of HOTAIR siRNA for 24 h, the CSE-induced EMT, formation of cancer stem cells (CSCs), and malignant transformation were reversed. Thus, IL-6, acting on STAT3 signaling, which up-regulates HOTAIR in an autocrine manner, contributes to the EMT and to CSCs induced by CSE. These data define a link between inflammation and EMT, processes involved in the malignant transformation of cells caused by CSE. This link, mediated through lncRNAs, establishes a mechanism for CSE-induced lung carcinogenesis.HighlightsSTAT3 directly regulates the levels of LncRNA HOTAIR.LncRNA HOTAIR mediates the link between inflammation and EMT.LncRNA HOTAIR is involved in the malignant transformation of cells caused by CSE.

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