J Cancer 2021; 12(11):3230-3238. doi:10.7150/jca.51567 This issue

Research Paper

Clinical diagnostic values of transfer RNA-derived fragment tRF-19-3L7L73JD and its effects on the growth of gastric cancer cells

Yijing Shen1,2, Yaoyao Xie2, Xiuchong Yu2,3, Shuangshuang Zhang1,2, Qiuyan Wen1, Guoliang Ye1,4, Junming Guo1,2,4✉

1. Department of Gastroenterology, The Affiliated Hospital of Medical School, Ningbo University, Ningbo 315020, China.
2. Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Zhejiang Key Laboratory of Pathophysiology, School of Medicine, Ningbo University, Ningbo 315211, China.
3. Ningbo No. 1 Hospital Affiliated to Ningbo University School of Medicine.
4. Institute of Digestive Diseases of Ningbo University, Ningbo 315020, China.

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Shen Y, Xie Y, Yu X, Zhang S, Wen Q, Ye G, Guo J. Clinical diagnostic values of transfer RNA-derived fragment tRF-19-3L7L73JD and its effects on the growth of gastric cancer cells. J Cancer 2021; 12(11):3230-3238. doi:10.7150/jca.51567. Available from https://www.jcancer.org/v12p3230.htm

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Graphic abstract

Background and aim: Medicine has made great progress, but gastric cancer is still one of the most common malignant tumors worldwide. tRNA-derived fragments (tRFs), a type of small non-coding RNA, have been found to play important roles in cancers. Due to an abundance of modifications, tRFs have the potential to serve as cancer biomarkers. However, the relationship between tRFs and gastric cancer is still largely unclear. We have identified a new tRF, tRF-19-3L7L73JD, found to be expressed at a lower level in gastric cancer patients than healthy controls. Our study aims to explore the diagnostic value of tRF-19-3L7L73JD screening in gastric cancer and to investigate its effects on the growth of gastric cancer cells.

Methods: Using quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, we identified tRF-3L7L73JD as differentially expressed in plasma from gastric cancer patients compared to healthy controls. We measured tRF-3L7L73JD levels in plasma from 40 gastric cancer patients and healthy controls. Furthermore, we tested another cohort containing 89 gastric cancer patients and 98 healthy controls to validate our findings. Next, we analyzed the relationship between levels of tRF-19-3L7L73JD in plasma and clinicopathological data of gastric cancer patients, and then evaluated the effects of tRF-19-3L7L73JD on gastric cancer cell growth. Cell proliferation was measured by the Cell Counting Kit‐8 and clone formation experiments after transfer with tRF-19-3L7L73JD mimics. The changes in cell migration ability were explored through the scratch and Transwell experiments. Finally, we explored changes in apoptosis and cell cycle by flow cytometry.

Results: tRF-19-3L7L73JD showed lower expression in the tested gastric cancer patients. In the validation cohort tRF-19-3L7L73JD was also expressed at low levels in the pre-operative plasma group compared with healthy plasma and post-operative plasma groups. Additionally, a comparison of gastric cancer cell lines with normal gastric epithelial cell lines produced the same result. We found that tRF-19-3L7L73JD expression in patients was related to tumor size. The area under the curve (AUC) was 0.6230, with sensitivity and specificity of 0.4045 and 0.7959, respectively. Cellular function studies revealed that tRF-19-3L7L73JD inhibited cell proliferation and migration, induced apoptosis, and arrested cells at G0/G1 phases, suggesting it may suppress the development of gastric cancer.

Conclusion: The results suggest that tRF-19-3L7L73JD may be useful as a biomarker of gastric cancer.

Keywords: gastric cancer, tRF-19-3L7L73JD, biomarker, proliferation, migration, apoptosis, cell cycle.