Theranostics 2018; 8(20):5676-5689. doi:10.7150/thno.28538 This issue

Research Paper

Long non-coding RNA DANCR stabilizes HIF-1α and promotes metastasis by interacting with NF90/NF45 complex in nasopharyngeal carcinoma

Xin Wen*, Xu Liu*, Yan-Ping Mao*, Xiao-Jing Yang*, Ya-Qin Wang, Pan-Pan Zhang, Yuan Lei, Xiao-Hong Hong, Qing-Mei He, Jun Ma, Na Liu, Ying-Qin Li

Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center; State Key Laboratory of Oncology in South China; Collaborative Innovation Center of Cancer Medicine; Guangdong Key Laboratory of Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma Diagnosis and Therapy, No. 651 Dongfeng Road East, Guangzhou 510060, People's Republic of China
*These authors contributed equally to this article.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
Wen X, Liu X, Mao YP, Yang XJ, Wang YQ, Zhang PP, Lei Y, Hong XH, He QM, Ma J, Liu N, Li YQ. Long non-coding RNA DANCR stabilizes HIF-1α and promotes metastasis by interacting with NF90/NF45 complex in nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Theranostics 2018; 8(20):5676-5689. doi:10.7150/thno.28538. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) play an important role in the development and progression of cancers. However, the clinical significances of lncRNAs and their functions and mechanisms in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) remain largely unclear.

Methods: Quantitative RT-PCR was used to determine DANCR expression and Kaplan-Meier curves were used to evaluate its prognostic value. RNA sequencing followed by bioinformatic analysis was performed to determine the potential function of DANCR. In vitro and in vivo experiments were conducted to investigate its biological effects. DANCR-interacting proteins were identified by RNA pull-down assay followed by mass spectrometry and western blotting, and then confirmed by RNA immunoprecipitation (RIP) assays.

Results: Our previous microarray analysis identified a metastasis-associated lncRNA DANCR. Here, we found that DANCR was upregulated in NPC, especially in those with lymph lode metastasis, and its upregulation could predict poor survival. We then constructed a prognostic predictive model. RNA sequencing followed by bioinformatic analysis revealed that DANCR was responsible for NPC metastasis and hypoxia phenotype. Functional studies showed that DANCR promoted NPC cell invasion and metastasis in vitro and in vivo. Further investigation suggested that DANCR could increase HIF-1α mRNA stability through interacting with the NF90/NF45 complex. Additionally, overexpression of HIF-1α in DANCR knockdown cells restored its suppressive effects on NPC cell migration and invasion.

Conclusions: Taken together, our results suggest that DANCR acts as a prognostic biomarker and increases HIF-1α mRNA stability by interacting with NF90/NF45, leading to metastasis and disease progression of NPC.

Keywords: nasopharyngeal carcinoma, metastasis, DANCR, NF90, HIF-1α