J Cancer 2018; 9(5):841-850. doi:10.7150/jca.23138

Research Paper

Ring finger protein 38 promote non-small cell lung cancer progression by endowing cell EMT phenotype

Dian Xiong1,2†, Shu-Qiang Zhu1†, Yong-Bing Wu1, Chun Jin2, Jia-Hao Jiang2, Yun-Fei Liao1, Xiang Long1, Hai-Bo Wu1, Jian-Jun Xu1✉, Ji-Jun Li3✉, Jian-Yong Ding2✉

1. Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University, Jiangxi Province 330000, P. R. China.
2. Department of Thoracic Surgery, The Affiliated Zhongshan Hospital of Fudan University, Shanghai 200032, P. R. China
3. Department of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, Kashgar Prefecture Second People's Hospital, Kashgar, Xinjiang 844000, China
These authors contributed equally to this work.


Objectives: Ring finger protein 38 (RNF38), as an E3 ubiquitin ligase, plays an essential role in multiple biological processes by controlling cell apoptosis, cell cycle and DNA repair, and resides in chromosome 9 (9p13) which is involvement in cancer pathogenesis including lung cancer. However, its function in tumorigenesis remains unclear. Hence, this study set out to investigate the biological function and clinical implications of RNF38 in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Materials and Methods: Immunohistochemistry, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) and western blot were used to detect RNF38 protein and mRNA levels in NSCLC and corresponding paratumor tissues. Tissue microarrays (TMA) analysis of 208 NSCLC cases were used to evaluate the relationship between RNF38 expression and clinical implications. Prognostic value was assessed by Kaplan-Meier analysis and log-rank tests. Wound-healing assays, trans-well assays, colony formation assays and CCK8 were used to assess cell migration, invasion and proliferative ability respectively. The analysis of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) phenotype was carried out by immunofluorescence and western blot.

Results: Our data revealed that elevated RNF38 expression were more common in NSCLC tissues than paired normal tissues in both mRNA (2.82 ± 0.29 vs. 1.23 ± 0.13) and protein (2.75 ± 0.09 vs. 1.24 ± 0.02) level. High levels of RNF38 expression were significantly associated with lymph node metastases, higher TNM stages (p=0.011), larger tumor size (p=2.09E-04) and predicted poor prognosis. RNF38 expression was inversely correlated with E-cadherin expression (P= 0.025). Moreover, downregulation of RNF38 impaired the proliferation, metastatic and invasive abilities in NSCLC cells. In addition, aberrant RNF38 expression could modulate the key molecules of EMT.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that elevated expression of RNF38 is significantly associated with the proliferation and metastatic capacity of NSCLC cells, and RNF38 overexpression can serve as a biomarker of NSCLC poor prognosis.

Keywords: RNF38, NSCLC, EMT, Prognosis, Survival

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How to cite this article:
Xiong D, Zhu SQ, Wu YB, Jin C, Jiang JH, Liao YF, Long X, Wu HB, Xu JJ, Li JJ, Ding JY. Ring finger protein 38 promote non-small cell lung cancer progression by endowing cell EMT phenotype. J Cancer 2018; 9(5):841-850. doi:10.7150/jca.23138. Available from http://www.jcancer.org/v09p0841.htm