Overexpression of long non-coding RNA-CTD903 inhibits colorectal cancer invasion and migration by repressing Wnt/β-catenin signaling and predicts favorable prognosis

  • Authors:
    • Zixu Yuan
    • Xihu Yu
    • Beibei Ni
    • Daici Chen
    • Zihuan Yang
    • Jintuan Huang
    • Jianping Wang
    • Dianke Chen
    • Lei Wang
  • View Affiliations

  • Published online on: March 21, 2016     https://doi.org/10.3892/ijo.2016.3447
  • Pages:2675-2685
Metrics: HTML 0 views | PDF 0 views     Cited By (CrossRef): 0 citations


Accumulating evidence reveals that long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) is essential for tumorigenesis and progression, but little is known about its roles and mechanisms in metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC). This study aimed to detect expression level and prognostic role of lncRNA‑CTD903 in CRC patients, which was selected based on one microarray data. The effects on cell invasion, migration and proliferation were investigated after silencing or overexpression of CTD903 in CRC cell lines. We also observed the EMT (epithelial-mesenchymal transition) phenomenon and effect on cell adhesion. The associations between CTD903 and EMT markers, such as E-cadherin, N-cadherin, β-catenin, ZEB1, ZO-1, Snail, and Twist, were determined by western blotting. Our results showed lncRNA-CTD903 expression was strongly upregulated in 115 CRC patients, comparing to adjacent normal tissues. CTD903 was proven to be an independent predicted factor of favorable prognosis in CRC patients by using multivariate Cox proportional hazards model. After knockdown of CTD903 in RKO and SW480, both cell invasion and migration increased, and cells exhibited EMT-like appearance, along with reduced adhering ability. Moreover, overexpression of CTD903 in DLD1 and HCT116 reversed these phenotypes. Furthermore, downregulation of CTD903 enhanced Wnt/β-catenin activation and subsequently increased transcription factors (Twist and Snail) expression, along with increased mesenchymal marker Vimentin and decreased epithelial marker ZO-1 level, while overexpressed CTD903 confirmed these associations. In conclusion, this study shows that LncRNA-CTD903 acts as a tumor suppressor in CRC and can inhibit cell invasion and migration through repressing Wnt/β-catenin signaling, which plays important roles in EMT and CRC metastasis.


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer and accounts for ~9% of all cancer death, ranking the second cause of cancer death worldwide (1). Over 50% of patients with CRC will develop metastasis and the median survival time of metastatic CRC (mCRC) is only 24 months, although various modalities of treatments including chemotherapy with anti-EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) targeted monoclonal antibodies have been applied (24). Therefore, early diagnosis and prediction of potential metastasis or recurrence show the greatest potential for mCRC therapy. There are a few of tumor biomarkers currently applied for prediction of CRC prognosis, such as gene mutations status of Kras, Braf, PI3K, TP53, and microsatellite instability (MSI) for selection of PD-1 inhibitor in the literature (46). It is still pivotal to find additional molecular biomarkers for clinical translation in CRC, especially those that can predict potential tumor recurrence or metastasis.

Except for the only 2% protein-coding genes, the majority in human genome are non-coding genes. Non-coding RNAs were previously regarded as ‘noise’ or ‘junk’ RNAs lacking protein-coding potential (7). However, in recent years due to the development of high-throughput sequencing, accumulating evidence revealed that these neglected non-coding RNAs are constitutively expressed and play critical roles in cellular functions and human diseases, such as multigenetic diseases and tumors (8,9). Although small non-coding RNAs [<200 nucleotides (nt)], such as microRNAs, have been the focus of research in RNA biology, in the past few years, long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) were also shown to play important roles in human disease and received most attention (911). LncRNAs, defined as cellular RNAs >200 nt in length, lack an open reading frame of an important region (<100 amino acids) and thus code no proteins (8). Dozens of lncRNAs are reported to be potential biomarkers for cancer diagnosis and prognosis prediction in many solid tumors (8,9). Recently, LncRNA-H19, UCA1 and HOTAIR were also reported strongly correlated with CRC metastasis and prognosis (1214). Therefore, lncRNAs are believed to represent a new category of cancer biomarkers and potential tumor therapeutic targets.

In this study, we report on the lncRNA-CTD903 (Ensemble version: ENST00000553153), a transcript of lncRNA-CTD-2314B22.3 (also known as linc01296 in the gene set) (15). It is located in chromosome 14q11.2. We have abbreviated the name of this transcript as lncRNA-CTD903 based on the length of 903 bp.

We previously identified aberrant expression of lncRNAs between CRC and matched paratumor normal tissues by a microarray analysis (13). Briefly, we selected six pairs of CRC tissues and corresponding paratumor normal tissues and assayed the expression of lncRNAs (30,586 items) and protein-coding mRNAs (26,109 items). Then we found lncRNA-CTD903 expression was markedly upregulated (fold change, 15.73, P<0.001) in CRC tissue. The fold change of lncRNA-CTD903 expression ranked in the second position in thousands of abnormally expressed lncRNAs, only secondary to known H19 according to the microarray data. Thus, we selected it for further research. In this study, we confirm CTD903 is upregulated in CRC tissues, compared to peritumor normal tissues. Importantly, CTD903 serves as an independent prediction factor of favorable prognosis with a longer recurrence-free survival (RFS). Furthermore, cell assays find overexpressed CTD903 could suppress cell invasion and migration by inhibiting epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Finally, our results indicate that CTD903 might repress Wnt/β-catenin signaling and subsequently inhibit expression of the transcription factors Twist and Snail to affect the EMT process. These findings reveal that CTD903 may be a new biomarker for prognosis and a potential target for treating mCRC.

Materials and methods

Patients and sample collection

The study was approved by Human Medical Ethics Committee of Sun Yat-Sen University (SYSU). Fresh CRC tissues (n=115) and paired paratumor normal mucosa samples (2 cm away from the tumor border), and distant normal mucosa samples (≥5 cm away from the tumor border) were collected from patients after surgery. Informed consent was obtained from patients enrolled in this study. Clinical tissue samples were all confirmed histopathologically and stored in RNAlater solution (Invitrogen, USA) at −80°C until extraction of total RNAs. Clinicopathological parameters were collected from an online CRC database of this hospital, and we confirmed the information by checking original medical records manually. TNM stage was defined according to the 6th version of American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) staging Manual. Follow-up was conducted according to the guideline of National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). The recurrence-free survival (RFS) was defined as the time interval from radical surgery to relapse, metastasis or death of cancer.

Cell culture

Human CRC cell lines (RKO, SW480, SW620, Caco2, HCT116, DLD1, and HT29) were all purchased in March 2013 from Chinese Academy of Science, Shanghai, China. All cell lines were routinely cultured in the DMEM or RPMI-1640 medium (Gibco, USA), which were supplemented with 10% fetal bovine serum and 1% penicillin/streptomycin (Gibco). All cell cultures were maintained in an incubator at 37°C with a 5% CO2 humidity.

Quantitative real-time PCR analysis

Tissues were cut up into small pieces, and then ground by a Tissue Lyser (Qiagen). Total RNAs were extracted using TRIzol reagent (Invitrogen) according to the manufacturer's instructions. Reverse transcription was conducted with Revertra Ace aPCR RT master mix with gDNA remover (Toyobo, Japan). The quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) was conducted by using SYBR Green mix (Applied Biosystems, USA) according to the instructions. The conditions were as follows: 95°C for 10 min; and 40 cycles (denaturation at 95°C for 15 sec, annealing/extension temperature at 60°C for 1 min). All experiments were performed in triplicates, including a negative control without template. A melting curve was conducted to analyze the appropriate amplification. Agarose gel (1%) was applied to validate the size of PCR products. The oligo primers were used for lack of a poly(A) tail of CTD903. The housekeeping gene glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) was applied as the endogenous reference gene. Relative gene expression was normalized to GAPDH using the 2−ΔΔCT method. The primers were as follows: CTD903 forward, 5′-TGGCAGTTTAAGAGTCTGGCA-3′; reverse, 5′-GAAGACTCGGGGATCAAGGT-3′. GAPDH forward, 5′-GACAGTCAGCCGCATCTTCTT-3′; reverse: 5′-AATCCGTTGACTCCGACCTTC-3′. All qPCR assays were performed by an ABI 7500 system (Applied Biosystems).

siRNA transfection

According to the manufacturer's instructions, the optimum cell plating density was explored. Cells were plated in the growth medium supplemented with 10% FBS without antibiotics in a 6-well plate, and then cultured for 24 h until 50–70% of confluent. An appropriate density of 3×105 cells per well were plated, then the volumes of siRNA were used for different cell lines from 2 to 10 μl, to reach ≥70% of decreased expression level after silencing. The optimum volumes of transfected siRNAs for RKO, SW480, and SW620 were 2, 3 and 5 μl, respectively. Moreover, an equivalent volume of scramble control was used. After establishing the optimum volume, siRNA or scramble control was mixed with Lipofectamine RNAiMAX reagent (Invitrogen) in reduced serum medium Opti-MEM (Gibco), and then co-transfected with cells. Forty-eight hours after the transfection, cells were harvested for further studies. The siRNA oligonucleotides were designed and synthesized by Ribobio (Guangzhou, China). The siRNA sequences of lncRNA-CTD903 in this study were as follows: forward, 5′-GCUACCUUGUGGCAGUUUAdTdT-3′; reverse, 5′-UAAACUGCCACAAGGUAGCTdTd-3′.

Overexpression of lncRNA-CTD903

To obtain cell lines over-expressing lncRNA-CTD903, the whole length of CTD903 was synthesized by Invitrogen Branch Corp. (Guangzhou, China), and then was inserted into pcDNA3.1(+) plasmid at the multiple cloning site using HindIII and EcoRI restriction enzymes (New England Biolabs) in our laboratory, and then confirmed by sequencing. HCT116 and DLD1, at an appropriate density of 3×105 cells per well, were transfected with 1 μg of plasmid pcDNA3.1-lncRNA-CTD903 (named pcDNA-CTD903 for short) or control pcDNA3.1(+) (named pcDNA for short) using Lipofectamine 3000 (Invitrogen, USA) according to the manufacturer's instructions. The CTD903 levels in overexpressed cell lines were identified by qRT-PCR.

Cell invasion and migration assays

Cell invasion ability was assessed using the cell culture insert (Corning, USA) according to the manufacturer's protocols. An appropriate density of 40–60 thousand cells per well for different cell lines were plated onto membrane (8.0-μm pore size) coated with Matrigel and fibronectin (BD, USA) in the upper chamber of the 24-well insert that contains serum-free medium. The bottom chamber contained growth medium with 20% FBS. Then cells were incubated at 37°C and 5% CO2 humidity for 48 h, and then the bottom of the upper chamber insert was fixed with 4% paraformaldehyde and stained with crystal violet. The cells that remained on the inner membrane of the upper chamber were removed by a cotton swab. The images of invaded cells were captured on a 100X inverted microscope (five random fields for each well), and then invaded cells were counted. Cell migration assay was performed with the same method, but without Matrigel. The experiments were repeated at least three times independently.

Cell proliferation, apoptosis and cell cycle assays

Cell proliferation was assessed by cell counting kit-8 (CCK-8) (Dojindo, Japan) and real-time cellular analysis (RTCA) DP device (ACEA Biosciences, USA) at the same time. Briefly, cells were plated in 96-well plate at an appropriate density of 6,000–8,000 cells per well for different cell lines, 10 μl of CCK-8 was added to each well at the indicated time-points and incubated for 2 h. Then the optical density was measured by a multimode spectrum system (Thermo Scientific, USA) at 450 nm. The methods of RTCA cell proliferation assays, apoptosis and cell cycle assays by flow cytometric analysis were described in our previous study (13).

Cell adhesion assays

Cells were plated onto a 96-well plate in triplicate wells coated with fibronectin (BD) at an appropriate density of 10–20 thousand cells per well for different cell lines, and incubated for 30 min with normal growth medium containing 10% FBS. Then cells were washed with PBS two times to remove cells that did not adhere. Adhering cells were fixed with 4% paraformaldehyde, and the images of cells were captured under an inverted microscope (five random ×100 fields), and the number of cells was calculated by ImageJ software.

Western blot analysis

Cells were harvested and lysed by RIPA buffer (Beyotime, China) with protease inhibitor (Thermo Scientific). Lysates were then clarified by centrifugation and the concentrations of extracted proteins were measured using BCA Protein Assay kit (Beibo, China). Proteins were incubated with SDS-PAGE loading buffer at 95°C for denaturation. Proteins (35 μg) were separated by using 5% stacking gel and 10% running gel. The prestained protein ladder (Thermo Scientific) was loaded in parallel as a reference of protein molecular weight. Then proteins were transferred onto NC membranes (Millipore, USA). The blots were blocked with 5% non-fat milk (BD) in TBS with Tween-20 (TBST). Then the membranes were incubated with primary antibody at 4°C overnight. After washing with TBST, secondary antibodies HRP-labeled IgG (Abcam, USA) were incubated for 1 h, and then the bound antibodies were detected using enhanced chemiluminescence system (Odyssey, USA). Quantitative analysis was performed by ImageJ software. Protein levels were all normalized to β-actin. The primary antibodies used in this study were as follows: E-cadherin, N-cadherin, Vimentin, ZEB1, Snail, and ZO-1 from an EMT kit (Cell Signaling Technology, USA), β-catenin (BD), Twist 2 (Abcam), β-actin (Proteintech Group, USA).

Statistical analysis

All of statistical analyses were performed by SPSS version 17.0 software (Chicago, IL, USA). For the comparisons, Student's t-tests or Chi-square test was performed appropriately. Potential risk factors of RFS were evaluated by univariate analysis. These risk factors with P<0.10 in univariate analysis were included in the subsequent multivariate analysis using Cox proportional hazards model. All P-values reported were two-sided and the difference with a P<0.05 was considered to be statistically significant.


The novel lncRNA-CTD903 expression is upregulated in CRC tissues

We analyzed CTD903 expression in 115 pairs of CRC tissues (T) and corresponding paratumor tissues (P) using qRT-PCR analysis. The distant normal intestine mucosas (N) from 66 cases of these 115 patients were also assessed. We found that the CTD903 expression was upregulated more obviously in T than that in P (P<0.0001) and N (P=0.0001), while no significant difference was found between P and N (P=0.779) (Fig. 1A).

The correlations of CTD903 and clinicopathological parameters and prognosis

We further examined the correlation of CTD903 expression and clinicopathological data in 115 CRC patients. Patients were categorized as high or low CTD903 expression group according to the median value. The higher CTD903 group showed more percentages of colon cancers comparing with rectum cancers (P=0.031), less mucinous tumors (P=0.030), and smaller tumor size (P=0.041). No significant correlations between CTD903 expression and other clinicopathological parameters were observed, such as age, gender, differentiation, stages, lymphatic and distant metastasis, venous and nerve invasion (Table I).

Table I

The correlations between lncRNA-CTD903 and clinicopathological characteristics in 115 CRC.

Table I

The correlations between lncRNA-CTD903 and clinicopathological characteristics in 115 CRC.

LncRNA-CTD903 expression

CharacteristicsHigh (n=55)Low (n=60)P-valuea
Age (years)0.424
Colon cancer0.708
 Non left-sided1318
Histologic grade0.692b
Mucinous cancer0.030
Tumor size0.041
 ≥5 cm1830
 <5 cm3728
Depth of invasion0.898
Lymphatic node stage0.708
Distant metastasis0.503
AJCC stage0.379
Venous invasion0.323
Nerve invasion0.923

a Chi-square analysis;

b Chi-square analysis with continuity correction.

To explore whether CTD903 expression could influence the clinical outcomes of CRC patients, we plotted ~2-year RFS curves in two independent cohorts. In the total of 115 patients, 17 were excluded for RFS analysis, which included five lost to follow-up, six died of non-cancerous causes, and six who had pre-operative distant metastasis and did not undergo radical resection of metastatic sites. Ninety-eight patients were enrolled in final survival analysis, the results showed CTD903 high expression group had a significantly longer RFS (P=0.018) than CTD903 low expression (Fig. 1B), using the median value of CTD903 expression as the cutoff similarly to previous studies (11,16). Univariate analysis showed that CTD903 expression (P=0.066), lymphatic metastasis (P<0.001), distant metastasis (P<0.001), mucinous invasion (P=0.013), venous invasion (P<0.001) and AJCC stages (P<0.001) were prognostic indicators of CRC (Table II). Furthermore, Cox's multivariate proportional hazards model revealed that CTD903 low expression [HR: 3.430 (1.283–9.167), P=0.014] and distant metastasis [HR: 3.808 (1.297–11.177), P=0.015] were two independent prognostic factors associated with tumor recurrence (Table III). Taken together, these above data suggested the important role of CTD903 in CRC carcinogenesis and metastasis.

Table II

Univariate analysis of clinicopathological parameters for recurrence-free survival.

Table II

Univariate analysis of clinicopathological parameters for recurrence-free survival.

VariableHazard ratio95% CIP-value
Age (≥60/<60 years)1.1530.518–2.5680.727
Gender (male/female)0.9300.411–2.1060.863
Lymphatic metastasis (positive/negative)7.0582.928–17.014<0.001
Differentiation (well+moderate)/(poor+other)0.0470.000–1666.3330.561
Distant metastasis (yes/no)4.9592.126–11.564<0.001
T stages (T3+T4)/(T1+T2)3.7430.506–27.6780.196
Mucinous invasion (yes/no)3.0521.270–7.3350.013
Venous invasion (yes/no)6.31112.742–14.524<0.001
Nerve invasion (yes/no)2.3700.813–6.9140.114
AJCC stage (III+IV)/(I+II)7.3542.916–18.545<0.001
Tumor size (≥5 cm/<5 cm)1.3710.926–2.0300.115
CTD903 expression (low/high)2.1560.950–4.8920.066

[i] CI, confidence interval; N, number of patients; AJCC, American Joint Committee on Cancer.

Table III

Multivariate analysis clinicopathological parameters for recurrence-free survival.

Table III

Multivariate analysis clinicopathological parameters for recurrence-free survival.

VariableHazard ratio95% CIP-value
Lymphatic metastasis1.0790.983–1.1850.108
Distant metastasis3.8081.297–11.1770.015a
Mucinous cancer2.2510.796–6.3680.126
Venous invasion2.0520.718–5.8630.179
AJCC stage (III+IV)2.6700.811–8.7940.106
CTD903 low expression3.4301.283–9.1670.014a

{ label (or @symbol) needed for fn[@id='tfn4-ijo-48-06-2675'] } CI, confidence interval; AJCC, American Joint Committee on Cancer;

a P<0.05.

Reduced level of LncRNA CTD903 enhances cell invasion/ migration and alters cell morphology

To evaluate the effects of CTD903 on cellular behavior, we first examined CTD903 expression in a variety of CRC cell lines, and then selected cell lines for subsequent experiments. For silencing the expression of CTD903, cell lines with relatively higher CTD903 expression including RKO and SW480 were chosen, along with SW620 derived from metastasis. For the silencing assays, cells were treated with CTD903 siRNA or scramble siRNA controls. CTD903 levels were significantly reduced in RKO, SW480 and SW620 after siRNA treatments, compared to controls (Fig. 2A, D and G). Transwell assays showed that both cell invasion and migration were remarkably increased in RKO, SW480 and SW620 after silencing CTD903, compared to controls (Fig. 2B, C, E, F, H and I). Furthermore, after siRNA transfection, cells exhibited more elongated and spindle-like appearance in RKO and SW480, the typical mesenchymal cell morphology, which indicated that CTD903 silencing could induce EMT-like phenotypes (Fig. 3A and B). Reduced adhering cells were also observed by cell adhesion assays after knockdown of CTD903 expression in SW480 (Fig. 3C and D) and SW620 (Fig. 3E and F). Cell proliferation, apoptosis rate and cell cycle profile were also analyzed, but no significant changes of these cell biological functions were observed after silencing CTD903 expression (data not shown). These results suggest reduced level of CTD903 would not perturb the cell division per se.

Overexpression of CTD903 impairs cell invasion, migration and proliferation

To elucidate the effects of CTD903 over-expression on cell biological functions, HCT116 and DLD1 with relatively low CTD903 expression were transfected with pcDNA3.1-CTD903 or control pcDNA3.1 plasmids. CTD903 levels were greatly elevated after overexpression of CTD903 both in HCT116 and DLD1 (Fig. 4A and D). Transwell assays revealed that cell invasion and migration were both impaired after transfection in DLD1 (Fig. 4B and C) and HCT116 (Fig. 4E and F). Cell adhesion was increased in HCT116 (Fig. 5A and B). Obvious decreased cell proliferation rate was observed both in DLD1 (Fig. 5C and D) and HCT116 (Fig. 5E and F) after CTD903 overexpression. Taken together, these results showed CTD903 has the ability to inhibit cell invasion and migration and therefore it is reasoned to be a tumor suppressor gene, according to its silencing and overexpression as indicated above.

CTD903 represses Wnt/β-catenin signaling and inhibits EMT-associated transcription factors Twist and Snail expression

To explore the effects of CTD903 on EMT-associated proteins, the expression of epithelial markers were detected by western blotting. After silencing CTD903 in SW480 and SW620, the levels of β-catenin, vimentin, and snail increased significantly, while ZO-1 protein level decreased (Fig. 6A and B). However, no significant changes of E-cadherin (Fig. 6A and B), N-cadherin and ZEB1 protein levels were observed (data not shown). Overexpression of CTD903 in DLD1 and HCT116 cells, decreased levels of β-catenin, Twist and Snail, along with slightly increased ZO-1 expression (Fig. 6C and D), and still no obvious changes of E-cadherin (Fig. 6C and D), N-cadherin and ZEB1 expression (data not shown) were detected. As for the inconsistent changes between E-cadherin and β-catenin expression, previous studies have explained that the reason is E-cadherin was not essential for activating Wnt/β-catenin signaling to play roles in EMT (17). We speculated that knockdown of CTD903 can activate Wnt/β-catenin signaling independently of cadherin expression.


The human transcriptome is proved to be more complex than known protein-coding genes, while ~90% of the genome is non-coding transcripts (18). Newly discovered lncRNAs have shown important roles in diverse biological functions and tumors in recent years. The underling mechanisms are mainly focused on regulating the processes of gene expression, transcription and translation (8). LncRNA-H19 can increase cell invasion and metastasis in bladder cancer through associating with EZH2 and inhibiting E-cadherin (19), while LncRNA-EBIC is found to promote tumor invasion by similar mechanism in cervical cancer (18). Aberrant expressed lncRNAs also unravelled their importance in CRC (2025). However, most of lncRNA studies focused on correlations of clinicopathological characteristics and prognosis, the mechanisms are rarely clarified, especially for mCRC.

To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to report the function and mechanism of CTD903 in CRC. In this study, CTD903 overexpression is found and is associated with smaller tumor size, less mucinous adenocarcinomas, and favorable prognosis in CRC, although prognosis did not reach statistical significance due to the small sample size. These results reveal that tumors with CTD903 high expression have less aggressive biological behavior than low expression tumors. CTD903 acts as a tumor suppressor gene and play protective roles in CRC. We also found the parameters, including lymphatic and distant metastasis, mucinous and venous invasion, and AJCC stages in univariate analysis, which are known indicators of poor CRC outcome, and in turn reveal the reliable results of our study. Furthermore, CTD903 is found to be an independent prognostic factor for RFS. Thus, we believe CTD903 might be a potential novel biomarker for future clinical translation.

Recently Qiu and Yan also reported that linc01296 was upregulated and can predict favorable prognosis in CRC by conducting a meta-analysis of online databases in European population (15). Their finding was also consistent with our results. However, the function and underlying mechanism of this lncRNA in tumors remain unknown. Furthermore, as many as sixteen transcripts of linc01296 are documented, but only three of them are overexpressed and others were not aberrantly expressed in CRC according to our previous microarray data, which indicate dramatic heterogeneity among these transcripts (13). CTD903 is the most overexpressed transcript of these three, and ranks in the second position in thousands of aberrant expressed lncRNAs in CRC. Therefore, CTD903 has shown biomarker potential and absorbed our interest for further research.

EMT is characterized by the impairment of cell-cell adhesion and can increase cell motility to promote cancer progression and metastasis (26). EMT is induced through activation of Wnt signaling (27). β-catenin is the key initial protein in the Wnt signaling. After activation, β-catenin can translocate from the cytoplasm to the nucleus, then regulate expression of several transcription factors, and subsequently induce EMT (17,28,29). In accordance with previous studies, in this study, CTD903 overexpression can repress Wnt/β-catenin expression, and then inhibits expressions of downstream mesenchymal marker Vimentin, epithelial marker ZO-1 and the transcriptional factors Twist and Snail. Finally, phenotypes of EMT and cell invasion and migration are inhibited.

E-cadherin and N-cadherin are two key molecules for EMT. Loss of E-cadherin expression and overexpression of N-cadherin are usually observed when EMT occurs (30). However, E-cadherin is not essentially correlated with activation of Wnt/β-catenin, because other compartments such as APC or AXIN can also confer β-catenin into the nucleus to induce EMT (17). In our study, no significant expression changes of E-cadherin and N-cadherin were observed, neither when EMT was induced. Thus, the results provide additional evidence that activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling can be independent and not triggered by E-cadherin/N-cadherin. Further research is needed to elucidate the underlying mechanism. No change of ZEB1 expression was observed, which indicated that it may not be involved in CTD903-mediated EMT.

Although most of the reported oncogenes are overexpressed in cancer, small proportion of tumor suppressor genes can also be upregulated and predict good prognosis, such as Rab27A in CRC and FOXO3a in gastric cancer (31,32). In this study, the level of CTD903 is upregulated significantly and is also suggested to be a tumor suppressor gene. In addition, overexpressed CTD903 level can decrease cell proliferation in HCT116 and DLD1, but no increased cell proliferation was observed when CTD903 was knocked down. The reason is perhaps for the limited effects of CTD903 on cell proliferation, like others reported in lncRNA-EBIC, and microRNA-10b that can remarkably affect cell migration but have no effects on cell proliferation (18,30). Cell cycle and apoptosis are not affected in knockdown of CTD903, which may be explained by limited roles on cell cycle and apoptosis, similarly to many other lncRNAs (18,33). Thus, we focus on the invasion and migration to elucidate potential mechanisms of tumor metastasis, which is currently a popular issue (34,35) and the leading cause of cancer-related death that remains not well answered. The most important limitations of this study are lack of in vivo experiments, which may provide more robust evidence for our findings.

In conclusion, lncRNA-CTD903 acts as a tumor suppressor gene in CRC, and can repress cell invasion and migration by repressing Wnt/β-catenin signaling to inhibit EMT and CRC metastasis. Our study enriches the underling molecular mechanisms of carcinogenesis and metastasis, and provides a novel biomarker and potential therapeutic target for CRC, which is promising for precision medicine.


This study was supported by the following grants: National Natural Scientific Foundation of China (nos. 81201581, 81372566 and 81573078), Guangdong Provincial Scientific Research Foundation (no. S2013010013478), National Science and Technology Support Project of Ministry of Science and Technology (no. 2014BAI09B06) and Young Teacher Training Program of Sun Yat-Sen University (no. 12ykpy48). We thank Zhemiao Wang (Department of Pathology) for tissue sample collection.



long non-coding RNA


colorectal cancer


metastatic colorectal cancer


epithelial-mesenchymal transition


recurrence-free survival


zonula occludens-1


epidermal growth factor receptor


CTD-2314B22.3-006, 903 bp


real-time cellular analysis



Siegel R, Ma J, Zou Z and Jemal A: Cancer statistics, 2014. CA Cancer J Clin. 64:9–29. 2014. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Sastre J, Argiles G, Benavides M, Feliu J, Garcia-Alfonso P, Garcia-Carbonero R, Grávalos C, Guillén-Ponce C, Martínez-Villacampa M and Pericay C: Clinical management of regorafenib in the treatment of patients with advanced colorectal cancer. Clin Transl Oncol. 16:942–953. 2014. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Ye LC, Liu TS, Ren L, Wei Y, Zhu DX, Zai SY, Ye QH, Yu Y, Xu B, Qin XY, et al: Randomized controlled trial of cetuximab plus chemotherapy for patients with KRAS wild-type unresectable colorectal liver-limited metastases. J Clin Oncol. 31:1931–1938. 2013. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Yuan ZX, Wang XY, Qin QY, Chen DF, Zhong QH, Wang L and Wang JP: The prognostic role of BRAF mutation in metastatic colorectal cancer receiving anti-EGFR monoclonal antibodies: A meta-analysis. PLoS One. 8:e659952013. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Le DT, Uram JN, Wang H, Bartlett BR, Kemberling H, Eyring AD, Skora AD, Luber BS, Azad NS, Laheru D, et al: PD-1 blockade in tumors with mismatch-repair deficiency. N Engl J Med. 372:2509–2520. 2015. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Grady WM and Markowitz SD: The molecular pathogenesis of colorectal cancer and its potential application to colorectal cancer screening. Dig Dis Sci. 60:762–772. 2015. View Article : Google Scholar


Ponting CP, Oliver PL and Reik W: Evolution and functions of long non-coding RNAs. Cell. 136:629–641. 2009. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Gutschner T and Diederichs S: The hallmarks of cancer: A long non-coding RNA point of view. RNA Biol. 9:703–719. 2012. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Qi P, Xu MD, Ni SJ, Huang D, Wei P, Tan C, Zhou XY and Du X: Low expression of LOC285194 is associated with poor prognosis in colorectal cancer. J Transl Med. 11:1222013. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Li X, Wu Z, Fu X and Han W: Long non-coding RNAs: Insights from biological features and functions to diseases. Med Res Rev. 33:517–553. 2013. View Article : Google Scholar


Yang F, Zhang L, Huo XS, Yuan JH, Xu D, Yuan SX, Zhu N, Zhou WP, Yang GS, Wang YZ, et al: Long non-coding RNA high expression in hepatocellular carcinoma facilitates tumor growth through enhancer of zeste homolog 2 in humans. Hepatology. 54:1679–1689. 2011. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Liang WC, Fu WM, Wong CW, Wang Y, Wang WM, Hu GX, Zhang L, Xiao LJ, Wan DC, Zhang JF, et al: The lncRNA H19 promotes epithelial to mesenchymal transition by functioning as miRNA sponges in colorectal cancer. Oncotarget. 6:22513–22525. 2015. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Ni B, Yu X, Guo X, Fan X, Yang Z, Wu P, Yuan Z, Deng Y, Wang J, Chen D, et al: Increased urothelial cancer associated 1 is associated with tumor proliferation and metastasis and predicts poor prognosis in colorectal cancer. Int J Oncol. 47:1329–1338. 2015.PubMed/NCBI


Kogo R, Shimamura T, Mimori K, Kawahara K, Imoto S, Sudo T, Tanaka F, Shibata K, Suzuki A, Komune S, et al: Long non-coding RNA HOTAIR regulates polycomb-dependent chromatin modification and is associated with poor prognosis in colorectal cancers. Cancer Res. 71:6320–6326. 2011. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Qiu JJ and Yan JB: Long non-coding RNA LINC01296 is a potential prognostic biomarker in patients with colorectal cancer. Tumour Biol. 36:7175–83. 2015. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Wang F, Yuan JH, Wang SB, Yang F, Yuan SX, Ye C, Yang N, Zhou WP, Li WL, Li W, et al: Oncofetal long non-coding RNA PVT1 promotes proliferation and stem cell-like property of hepatocellular carcinoma cells by stabilizing NOP2. Hepatology. 60:1278–1290. 2014. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Ghahhari NM and Babashah S: Interplay between microRNAs and WNT/β-catenin signalling pathway regulates epithelial-mesenchymal transition in cancer. Eur J Cancer. 51:1638–1649. 2015. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Sun NX, Ye C, Zhao Q, Zhang Q, Xu C, Wang SB, Jin ZJ, Sun SH, Wang F and Li W: Long non-coding RNA-EBIC promotes tumor cell invasion by binding to EZH2 and repressing E-cadherin in cervical cancer. PLoS One. 9:e1003402014. View Article : Google Scholar


Luo M, Li Z, Wang W, Zeng Y, Liu Z and Qiu J: Long non-coding RNA H19 increases bladder cancer metastasis by associating with EZH2 and inhibiting E-cadherin expression. Cancer Lett. 333:213–221. 2013. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Yuan JH, Yang F, Wang F, Ma JZ, Guo YJ, Tao QF, Liu F, Pan W, Wang TT, Zhou CC, et al: A long non-coding RNA activated by TGF-β promotes the invasion-metastasis cascade in hepatocellular carcinoma. Cancer Cell. 25:666–681. 2014. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Deng Q, He B, Gao T, Pan Y, Sun H, Xu Y, Li R, Ying H, Wang F, Liu X, et al: Up-regulation of 91H promotes tumor metastasis and predicts poor prognosis for patients with colorectal cancer. PLoS One. 9:e1030222014. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Shi D, Zheng H, Zhuo C, Peng J, Li D, Xu Y, Li X, Cai G and Cai S: Low expression of novel lncRNA RP11-462C24.1 suggests a biomarker of poor prognosis in colorectal cancer. Med Oncol. 31:312014. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Yin D, He X, Zhang E, Kong R, De W and Zhang Z: Long non-coding RNA GAS5 affects cell proliferation and predicts a poor prognosis in patients with colorectal cancer. Med Oncol. 31:2532014. View Article : Google Scholar


Kam Y, Rubinstein A, Naik S, Djavsarov I, Halle D, Ariel I, Gure AO, Stojadinovic A, Pan H, Tsivin V, et al: Detection of a long non-coding RNA (CCAT1) in living cells and human adeno-carcinoma of colon tissues using FIT-PNA molecular beacons. Cancer Lett. 352:90–96. 2014. View Article : Google Scholar


Yan B, Gu W, Yang Z, Gu Z, Yue X, Gu Q and Liu L: Downregulation of a long non-coding RNA-ncRuPAR contributes to tumor inhibition in colorectal cancer. Tumour Biol. 35:11329–11335. 2014. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Ji Q, Liu X, Han Z, Zhou L, Sui H, Yan L, Jiang H, Ren J, Cai J and Li Q: Resveratrol suppresses epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in colorectal cancer through TGF-β1/Smads signaling pathway mediated Snail/E-cadherin expression. BMC Cancer. 15:972015. View Article : Google Scholar


Anastas JN and Moon RT: WNT signalling pathways as therapeutic targets in cancer. Nat Rev Cancer. 13:11–26. 2013. View Article : Google Scholar


Vincan E and Barker N: The upstream components of the Wnt signalling pathway in the dynamic EMT and MET associated with colorectal cancer progression. Clin Exp Metastasis. 25:657–663. 2008. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Lin JJ, Zhao TZ, Cai WK, Yang YX, Sun C, Zhang Z, Xu YQ, Chang T and Li ZY: Inhibition of histamine receptor 3 suppresses glioblastoma tumor growth, invasion, and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. Oncotarget. 6:17107–17120. 2015. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Zhang L, Sun J, Wang B, Ren JC, Su W and Zhang T: MicroRNA-10b triggers the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of laryngeal carcinoma Hep-2 cells by directly targeting the E-cadherin. Appl Biochem Biotechnol. 176:33–44. 2015. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Shi C, Yang X, Ni Y, Hou N, Xu L, Zhan F, Zhu H, Xiong L and Chen P: High Rab27A expression indicates favorable prognosis in CRC. Diagn Pathol. 10:682015. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Yu S, Yu Y, Sun Y, Wang X, Luo R, Zhao N, Zhang W, Li Q, Cui Y, Wang Y, et al: Activation of FOXO3a suggests good prognosis of patients with radically resected gastric cancer. Int J Clin Exp Pathol. 8:2963–2970. 2015.PubMed/NCBI


Huang JF, Guo YJ, Zhao CX, Yuan SX, Wang Y, Tang GN, Zhou WP and Sun SH: Hepatitis B virus X protein (HBx)-related long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) down-regulated expression by HBx (Dreh) inhibits hepatocellular carcinoma metastasis by targeting the intermediate filament protein vimentin. Hepatology. 57:1882–1892. 2013. View Article : Google Scholar


Hoshino A, Costa-Silva B, Shen TL, Rodrigues G, Hashimoto A, Tesic Mark M, Molina H, Kohsaka S, Di Giannatale A, Ceder S, et al: Tumour exosome integrins determine organotropic metastasis. Nature. 527:329–335. 2015. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI


Fang JH, Zhou HC, Zhang C, Shang LR, Zhang L, Xu J, Zheng L, Yuan Y, Guo RP, Jia WH, et al: A novel vascular pattern promotes metastasis of hepatocellular carcinoma in an epithelial-mesenchymal transition-independent manner. Hepatology. 62:452–465. 2015. View Article : Google Scholar : PubMed/NCBI

Related Articles

Journal Cover

June 2016
Volume 48 Issue 6

Print ISSN: 1019-6439
Online ISSN:1791-2423

Sign up for eToc alerts

Recommend to Library

Copy and paste a formatted citation
Yuan, Z., Yu, X., Ni, B., Chen, D., Yang, Z., Huang, J. ... Wang, L. (2016). Overexpression of long non-coding RNA-CTD903 inhibits colorectal cancer invasion and migration by repressing Wnt/β-catenin signaling and predicts favorable prognosis. International Journal of Oncology, 48, 2675-2685. https://doi.org/10.3892/ijo.2016.3447
Yuan, Z., Yu, X., Ni, B., Chen, D., Yang, Z., Huang, J., Wang, J., Chen, D., Wang, L."Overexpression of long non-coding RNA-CTD903 inhibits colorectal cancer invasion and migration by repressing Wnt/β-catenin signaling and predicts favorable prognosis". International Journal of Oncology 48.6 (2016): 2675-2685.
Yuan, Z., Yu, X., Ni, B., Chen, D., Yang, Z., Huang, J., Wang, J., Chen, D., Wang, L."Overexpression of long non-coding RNA-CTD903 inhibits colorectal cancer invasion and migration by repressing Wnt/β-catenin signaling and predicts favorable prognosis". International Journal of Oncology 48, no. 6 (2016): 2675-2685. https://doi.org/10.3892/ijo.2016.3447