MIR99AHG inhibits EMT in pulmonary fibrosis via the miR-136-5p/USP4/ACE2 axis.
BACKGROUND: Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are closely related to the occurrence and development of cancer. Abnormally expressed lncRNA can be used as a diagnostic marker for cancer. In this study, we aim to investigate the clinical significance of MIR99AHG expression in lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD), and its biological roles in LUAD progression. METHODS: The relative expression of MIR99AHG in LUAD tissues and cell lines was analyzed using public databases and RT-qPCR. The biological functions of MIR99AHG were investigated using a loss-of-function approach. The effect of MIR99AHG on lung fibrosis was assessed by scratch assay, invasion assay and lung fibrosis rat model. FISH, luciferase reporter assay and immunofluorescence were performed to elucidate the underlying molecular mechanisms. RESULTS: LncRNA MIR99AHG expression level was downregulated in LUAD tissues and cell lines. Low MIR99AHG levels were associated with poorer patient overall survival. Functional analysis showed that MIR99AHG is associated with the LUAD malignant phenotype in vitro and in vivo. Further mechanistic studies showed that, MIR99AHG functions as a competitive endogenous RNA (ceRNA) to antagonize miR-136-5p-mediated ubiquitin specific protease 4 (USP4) degradation, thereby unregulated the expression of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), a downstream target gene of USP4, which in turn affected alveolar type II epithelial cell fibrosis and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). In summary, the MIR99AHG/miR-136-5p/USP4/ACE2 signalling axis regulates lung fibrosis and EMT, thus inhibiting LUAD progression. CONCLUSION: This study showed that downregulated MIR99AHG leads to the development of pulmonary fibrosis. Therefore, overexpression of MIR99AHG may provide a new approach to preventing LUAD progression.