Research Papers:

Identification of tumorigenesis-related mRNAs associated with RNA-binding protein HuR in thyroid cancer cells

Federica Baldan, Catia Mio, Lorenzo Allegri, Ketty Conzatti, Barbara Toffoletto, Cinzia Puppin, Slobodanka Radovic, Carlo Vascotto, Diego Russo, Carla Di Loreto and Giuseppe Damante _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:63388-63407. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.11255

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Federica Baldan1, Catia Mio1, Lorenzo Allegri1, Ketty Conzatti1, Barbara Toffoletto1, Cinzia Puppin1, Slobodanka Radovic2, Carlo Vascotto1, Diego Russo3, Carla Di Loreto1,4, Giuseppe Damante1,5

1Department of Medical and Biological Sciences, University of Udine, 33100 Udine, Italy

2IGA Technology Services Srl, 33100 Udine, Italy

3Department of Health Sciences, University of Catanzaro “Magna Graecia”, 88100 Catanzaro, Italy

4Institute of Anatomic Pathology, University Hospital “S. Maria della Misericordia”, 33100 Udine, Italy

5Institute of Medical Genetics, University Hospital “S. Maria della Misericordia”, 33100 Udine, Italy

Correspondence to:

Giuseppe Damante, email: [email protected]

Keywords: HuR, RNA-binding proteins, RNA-seq, RIP-seq

Received: December 21, 2015    Accepted: July 26, 2016    Published: August 12, 2016


RNA binding proteins (RBPs) play a central role in cell physiology and pathology. Among them, HuR is a nuclear RBP, which shuttles to the cytoplasm to allow its RNA targets processing. HuR over-expression and delocalization are often associated to cell transformation. Numerous cancers display increased HuR protein levels and its high cytoplasmic levels has been associated with a worse prognosis.

In our study, we first evaluated HuR expression in normal and cancer thyroid tissues and then evaluated its function in thyroid cell lines. HuR is over-expressed in all thyroid tumor tissues; high cytoplasmic levels are detected in all thyroid carcinomas. HuR silencing decreased cell viability and determined apoptotic cell death, in a non-tumorigenic (Nthy-ori-3.1) and a tumorigenic (BCPAP) thyroid cell line. Global transcriptome analysis indicated that HuR silencing, though having similar biological effects, induces distinct gene expression modifications in the two cell lines. By using the RIP-seq approach, the HuR-bound RNA profiles of different thyroid cell lines were evaluated. We show that in distinct cell lines HuR-bound RNA profiles are different. A set of 114 HuR-bound RNAs distinguishing tumorigenic cell lines from the non-tumorigenic one was identified.

Altogether, our data indicate that HuR plays a role in thyroid tumorigenesis. Moreover, our findings are a proof of concept that RBP targets differ between cells with the same origin but with distinct biological behavior.

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