Research Papers:

AUF1 positively controls angiogenesis through mRNA stabilization-dependent up-regulation of HIF-1α and VEGF-A in human osteosarcoma

Huda H. Al-Khalaf and Abdelilah Aboussekhra

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Oncotarget. 2019; 10:4868-4879. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.27115

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Huda H. Al-Khalaf1,2 and Abdelilah Aboussekhra1

1 Department of Molecular Oncology, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, Riyadh 11211, KSA

2 The National Center for Stem Cell Technology, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, Riyadh 11211, KSA

Correspondence to:

Abdelilah Aboussekhra,email: [email protected]

Keywords: osteosarcoma; AUF1; VEGF-A; HIF-1α; angiogenesis

Received: March 19, 2019     Accepted: June 29, 2019     Published: August 06, 2019


Osteosarcoma is the most common malignant bone tumor in children, adolescents, and young adults. This pleiomorphic tumor depends on new blood vessel development, also known as angiogenesis, for tumor growth and metastasis. Therefore, it’s of utmost importance to identify the key genes and pathways that regulate this pro-metastatic process in order to develop more efficient therapies. Here, we have shown that the RNA-binding protein AUF1 positively regulates the expression of the pro-angiogenic factor VEGF-A and its positive regulator HIF-1alpha through direct binding and stabilization of their mRNAs. This effect is mediated through the seeding sequence of the AUF1 protein in the VEGF-A and HIF-1alpha 3’UTR sequences. As a consequence, the expression of the 3 genes was highly correlative in various osteosarcoma cell lines, and AUF1 enhanced the pro-angiogenic capabilities of osteosarcoma cells both in vitro and in vivo. Indeed, while inhibition of AUF1 using specific siRNA suppressed the pro-angiogenic effects of osteosarcoma cells, ectopic expression of AUF1 enhanced the pro-angiogenic effect in a VEGF-A-dependent manner. Therefore, in the era of targeted therapy, anti-angiogenic therapies targeting AUF1 could provide effective methods for treating osteosarcoma.

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