Research Papers:

An unusual intragenic promoter of PIWIL2 contributes to aberrant activation of oncogenic PL2L60

Shan-Shan Liu, Ning Liu, Meng-Yao Liu, Lei Sun, Wu-Yan Xia, Hong-Min Lu, Yu-Jie Fu, Guo-Liang Yang, Juan-Jie Bo, Xiao-Xing Liu, Haizhong Feng, Hailong Wu, Lin-Feng Li and Jian-Xin Gao _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:46104-46120. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.17553

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Shan-Shan Liu1,*, Ning Liu1,*, Meng-Yao Liu1, Lei Sun1, Wu-Yan Xia1, Hong-Min Lu1, Yu-Jie Fu1, Guo-Liang Yang2, Juan-Jie Bo2, Xiao-Xing Liu3, Haizhong Feng1, Hailong Wu1, Lin-Feng Li1 and Jian-Xin Gao1

1State Key Laboratory of Oncogenes and Related Genes, Renji-Med X Clinical Stem Cell Research Center, Ren Ji Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China

2Department of Urology, Ren Ji Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China

3Department of Radiotherapy, Ren Ji Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Jian-Xin Gao, email: [email protected], [email protected]

Lin-Feng Li, email: [email protected]

Keywords: PIWIL2, PL2L60, intragenic promoter, alienated gene activation, STAT3

Received: March 07, 2017    Accepted: March 28, 2017    Published: May 02, 2017


PIWIL2-like (PL2L) protein 60 (PL2L60), a product of aberrantly activated PIWIL2 gene, is widely expressed in various types of tumors and may promote tumorigenesis. However, the mechanisms underlying the activation of expression of PL2L60 remain unknown. In this study, an intragenic promoter responsible for the activation of PL2L60 within the human PIWIL2 gene has been identified, cloned and characterized. The promoter of PL2L60 is located in the intron 10 of the host gene PIWIL2. Bioinformatic and mutagenic analysis reveals that this intragenic promoter within the sequence of 50 nucleotides contains two closely arranged cis-acting elements specific for the hepatic leukemia factor (HLF) in the positive strand and signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) in the negative strand. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis demonstrates that both the HLF and polymerase II (Pol II), a hallmark of active promoters, directly bind to the sequence, although STAT3 does not. Knockdown of HLF and STAT3 alone or both by RNA interference significantly reduced both promoter activity and the PL2L60 protein expression, although there is no additive effect. The expression of PL2L60 proteins was enhanced when host gene Piwil2 was genetically disrupted in a murine cell model. Taken together, we have identified a PL2L60-specific intragenic promoter in the host gene of PIWIL2, which is interdependently activated by HLF and STAT3 through steric interaction. This activation is dependent on cellular milieu rather than the integrity of host gene PIWIL2, highlighting a novel, important mechanism for a cancer-causing gene to be activated during tumorigenesis.

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