Research Papers:

Lin28b Promotes Head and Neck Cancer Progression via Modulation of the Insulin-Like Growth Factor Survival Pathway

Nehad M Alajez _, Wei Shi, Dennis Wong, Michelle Lenarduzzi, John Waldron, Ilan Weinreb and Fei-Fei Liu

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Oncotarget. 2012; 3:1641-1652. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.785

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Nehad M. Alajez1, Wei Shi2, Dennis Wong3, Michelle Lenarduzzi2,3, John Waldron4,5, Ilan Weinreb6, Fei-Fei Liu2,3,4,5

1 Stem Cell Unit, Department of Anatomy, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

2 Ontario Cancer Institute, Toronto, Canada

3 Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

4 Department of Radiation Oncology, University Health Network, Toronto, Canada

5 Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

6 Department of Pathology, University Health Network, Toronto, Canada


Fei-Fei Liu, email:

Keywords: Lin28b, microRNA, Let-7, HNC, IGF

Received: December 04, 2012, Accepted: December 27, 2012, Published: December 29, 2012


Lin28 is a developmentally regulated RNA binding protein which has recently emerged as key regulator in the biogenesis of the let-7 micro-RNA family. While the expression of Lin28b has been linked to advanced tumor stage, the precise molecular mechanism(s) by which Lin28b drives disease progression is still being unraveled. Herein, we generated a let-7-resistant Lin28b ORF, stably expressed in the FaDu head and neck cancer (HNC) cell line. FaDu-Lin28b cells exhibited enhanced tumor growth in vitro and in vivo. Global gene and micro-RNA expression analyses revealed significant enrichment in several pathways involved in cell migration, chromatin remodeling, and cellular stress response. Direct regulation of selected genes (HMGA2, CCND2, IGF1R, and IGF2BP2) via a let-7-Lin28b mechanism was validated. Notably, up-regulation of several genes in the IGF pathway in Lin28b-expressing cells was observed. Functional studies revealed significant increase in the survival of Lin28b-expressing cells when cultured under stress conditions, which was dependent on the presence of IGF1. Therefore, our data identified several novel gene targets for Lin28b-let7, and revealed a novel mechanism by which Lin28b promote tumorigenesis. Concordantly, clinical examinations of Lin28b, IGF2BP2 and IGF2 revealed a significant association between the expression of these genes with disease relapse, thereby corroborating the potential relevance for the Lin28b/IGF axis in HNC progression.

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