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Keywords:

  • Cancer stem cell;
  • Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition;
  • LincRNA;
  • Hotair

Abstract

Hotair is a member of the recently described class of noncoding RNAs called lincRNA (large intergenic noncoding RNA). Various studies suggest that Hotair acts regulating epigenetic states by recruiting chromatin-modifying complexes to specific target sequences that ultimately leads to suppression of several genes. Although Hotair has been associated with metastasis and poor prognosis in different tumor types, a deep characterization of its functions in cancer is still needed. Here, we investigated the role of Hotair in the scenario of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and in the arising and maintenance of cancer stem cells (CSCs). We found that treatment with TGF-β1 resulted in increased Hotair expression and triggered the EMT program. Interestingly, ablation of Hotair expression by siRNA prevented the EMT program stimulated by TGF-β1, and also the colony-forming capacity of colon and breast cancer cells. Furthermore, we observed that the colon CSC subpopulation (CD133+/CD44+) presents much higher levels of Hotair when compared with the non-stem cell subpopulation. These results indicate that Hotair acts as a key regulator that controls the multiple signaling mechanisms involved in EMT. Altogether, our data suggest that the role of Hotair in tumorigenesis occurs through EMT triggering and stemness acquisition. Stem Cells 2013;31:2827–2832