N6-methyladenosine contributes to cellular phenotype in a genetically-defined model of breast cancer progression
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Nate J. Fry1, Brittany A. Law2, Olga R. Ilkayeva3, Kristen R. Carraway1, Christopher L. Holley2 and Kyle D. Mansfield1
1Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27834, USA
2Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA
3Duke Molecular Physiology Institute, Duke University, Durham, NC 27701, USA
Kyle D. Mansfield, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Keywords: N6-methyladenosine; hypoxia; breast cancer; transformation; RNA modification
Received: May 22, 2018 Accepted: July 05, 2018 Published: July 27, 2018
The mRNA modification N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is involved in many post-transcriptional regulatory processes including mRNA stability and translational efficiency. However, it is also imperative to correlate these processes with phenotypic outputs during cancer progression. Here we report that m6A levels are significantly decreased in genetically-defined immortalized and oncogenically-transformed human mammary epithelial cells (HMECs), as compared with their primary cell predecessor. Furthermore, the m6A methyltransferase (METTL3) is decreased and the demethylase (ALKBH5) is increased in the immortalized and transformed cell lines, providing a possible mechanism for this basal change in m6A levels. Although the immortalized and transformed cells showed lower m6A levels than their primary parental cell line, overexpression of METTL3 and METTL14, or ALKBH5 knockdown to increase m6A levels in transformed cells increased proliferation and migration. Remarkably, these treatments had little effect on the immortalized cells. Together, these results suggest that m6A modification may be downregulated in immortalized cells as a brake against malignant progression. Finally, we found that m6A levels in the immortalized and transformed cells increased in response to hypoxia without corresponding changes in METTL3, METTL14 or ALKBH5 expression, suggesting a novel pathway for regulation of m6A levels under stress.
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