Research Papers:

MUC16 overexpression induced by gene mutations promotes lung cancer cell growth and invasion

Madiha Kanwal _, Xiao-Jie Ding, Xin Song, Guang-Biao Zhou and Yi Cao

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:12226-12239. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.24203

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Madiha Kanwal1,2,*, Xiao-Jie Ding1,*, Xin Song3, Guang-Biao Zhou4 and Yi Cao1

1Laboratory of Molecular and Experimental Pathology, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, China

2Kunming College of Life Sciences, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, China

3Department of Cancer Biotherapy Center, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Kunming Medical University (Tumor Hospital of Yunnan Province), Kunming, China

4State Key Laboratory of Biomembrane and Membrane Biotechnology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Yi Cao, email: [email protected] ([email protected])

Keywords: air pollution-related lung cancer; MUC16 (CA125); gene mutation; CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing; biomarker

Received: October 02, 2017     Accepted: December 04, 2017     Published: January 12, 2018


Air pollution is one of the leading causes of lung cancer. Air pollution-related lung cancer is a deteriorating public health problem, particularly in developing countries. The MUC16 gene is one of the most frequently mutated genes in air pollution-related lung cancer. In the present study, MUC16 mRNA expression was increased in ~50% of air pollution-related lung cancer samples obtained from patients residing in air-polluted regions (Xuanwei and Fuyuan, Yunnan, China), and MUC16 mRNA levels were correlated with the degree of air pollution. Furthermore, sequencing of the captured MUC16 gene identified 561 mutation sites within the MUC16 gene in the air pollution-related lung cancer tissues. Interestingly, some mutations at specific sites and one region were associated with MUC16 mRNA up-regulation. Therefore, we further investigated the impacts of gene mutation on MUC16 expressions and cell behaviors in cultured cells by inducing certain mutations within the MUC16 gene using CRISPER/Cas9 genome editing technology. Certain mutations within the MUC16 gene induced MUC16 overexpression at both the mRNA and the protein level in the cultured cells. Additionally, MUC16 overexpression induced by gene mutations had functional effects on the behavior of lung cancer cells, including increasing their resistance to cisplatin, promoting their growth, and enhancing their migration and invasion capabilities. Based on the data, we suggest that MUC16 mutations potentially associated with air pollution may participate in the development and progression of air pollution-related lung cancer. In addition to ovarian cancer, MUC16 may be a candidate biomarker for lung cancer.

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