lncRNA HOTAIR overexpression induced downregulation of c-Met signaling promotes hybrid epithelial/mesenchymal phenotype in hepatocellular carcinoma cells

Hande Topel, Ezgi Bagirsakci, Dehan Comez, Gulsun Bagci, Gulcin Cakan-Akdogan, Nese Atabey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Background: Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET) are both reversible processes, and regulation of phenotypical transition is very important for progression of several cancers including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Recently, it is defined that cancer cells can attain a hybrid epithelial/mesenchymal (hybrid E/M) phenotype. Cells with hybrid E/M phenotype comprise mixed epithelial and mesenchymal properties, they can be more resistant to therapeutics and also more capable of initiating metastatic lesions. However, the mechanisms regulating hybrid E/M in HCC are not well described yet. In this study, we investigated the role of the potential crosstalk between lncRNA HOTAIR and c-Met receptor tyrosine kinase, which are two essential regulators of EMT and MET, in acquiring of hybrid E/M phenotype in HCC. Methods: Expression of c-Met and lncRNA HOTAIR were defined in HCC cell lines and patient tissues through HCC progression. lncRNA HOTAIR was overexpressed in SNU-449 cells and its effects on c-Met signaling were analyzed. c-Met was overexpressed in SNU-398 cells and its effect on HOTAIR expression was analyzed. Biological significance of HOTAIR/c-Met interplay was defined in means of adhesion, proliferation, motility behavior, invasion, spheroid formation and metastatic ability. Effect of ectopic lncRNA HOTAIR expression on phenotype was defined with investigation of molecular epithelial and mesenchymal traits. Results: In vitro and in vivo experiments verified the pivotal role of lncRNA HOTAIR in acquisition of hybrid E/M phenotype through modulating expression and activation of c-Met and its membrane co-localizing partner Caveolin-1, and membrane organization to cope with the rate limiting steps of metastasis such as survival in adhesion independent microenvironment, escaping from anoikis and resisting to fluidic shear stress (FSS) in HCC. Conclusions: Our work provides the first evidence suggesting a role for lncRNA HOTAIR in the modulation of c-Met to promote hybrid E/M phenotype. The balance between lncRNA HOTAIR and c-Met might be critical for cell fate decision and metastatic potential of HCC cells. [MediaObject not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Article number110
JournalCell Communication and Signaling
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • c-Met
  • Caveolin-1
  • HCC
  • Hybrid E/M
  • long non-coding RNA


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