Research Papers:

Small non-coding RNA landscape is modified by GPAT2 silencing in MDA-MB-231 cells

Ezequiel Lacunza, Mauro Aldo Montanaro, Annamaria Salvati, Domenico Memoli, Francesca Rizzo, Maria Florencia Henning, Ivana Yoseli Quiroga, Hervé Guillou, Martín Carlos Abba, María del Rosario Gonzalez-Baro, Alessandro Weisz and Magalí Pellon-Maison _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:28141-28154. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.25582

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Ezequiel Lacunza1,*, Mauro Aldo Montanaro2,*, Annamaria Salvati3, Domenico Memoli3, Francesca Rizzo3,4, Maria Florencia Henning2, Ivana Yoseli Quiroga2, Hervé Guillou5, Martín Carlos Abba1, María del Rosario Gonzalez-Baro2, Alessandro Weisz3,4 and Magalí Pellon-Maison2

1Centro de Investigaciones Inmunológicas Básicas y Aplicadas, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, La Plata, Argentina

2Instituto de Investigaciones Bioquímicas de La Plata, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Universidad Nacional de La Plata, La Plata, Argentina

3Laboratory of Molecular Medicine and Genomics, Department of Medicine, Surgery and Dentistry “Scuola Medica Salernitana”, University of Salerno, Baronissi, SA, Italy

4Genomix4Life, Department of Medicine, Surgery and Dentistry “Schola Medica Salernitana”, University of Salerno, Baronissi, SA, Italy

5Toxalim, Université de Toulouse, INRA, ENVT, INP-Purpan, UPS, Toulouse, France

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Magalí Pellon-Maison, email: [email protected]

Alessandro Weisz, email: [email protected]

Keywords: GPAT2; breast cancer; piRNAs; tRNA derived fragments; small non-coding RNAs

Received: November 08, 2017     Accepted: April 28, 2018     Published: June 15, 2018


Glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase-2 is a member of “cancer-testis gene” family. Initially linked to lipid metabolism, this gene has been recently found involved also in PIWI-interacting RNAs biogenesis in germline stem cells. To investigate its role in piRNA metabolism in cancer, the gene was silenced in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells and small RNA sequencing was applied. PIWI-interacting RNAs and tRNA-derived fragments expression profiles showed changes following GPAT2 silencing. Interestingly, a marked shift in length distribution for both small RNAs was detected in GPAT2-silenced cells. Most downregulated PIWI-interacting RNAs are single copy in the genome, intragenic, hosted in snoRNAs and previously found to be upregulated in cancer cells. Putative targets of these PIWI-interacting RNAs are linked to lipid metabolism. Downregulated tRNA derived fragments derived from, so-called ‘differentiation tRNAs’, whereas upregulated ones derived from proliferation-linked tRNAs. miRNA amounts decrease after Glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase-2 silencing and functional enrichment analysis of deregulated miRNA putative targets point to mitochondrial biogenesis, IGF1R signaling and oxidative metabolism of lipids and lipoproteins. In addition, miRNAs known to be overexpressed in breast cancer tumors with poor prognosis where found downregulated in GPAT2-silenced cells. In conclusion, GPAT2 silencing quantitatively and qualitatively affects the population of PIWI-interacting RNAs, tRNA derived fragments and miRNAs which, in combination, result in a more differentiated cancer cell phenotype.

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