Theranostics 2020; 10(11):4762-4778. doi:10.7150/thno.43839 This issue

Research Paper

Hypoxia-induced lncRNA-AC020978 promotes proliferation and glycolytic metabolism of non-small cell lung cancer by regulating PKM2/HIF-1α axis

Qian Hua1*, Baoming Mi3*, Fei Xu1, Jun Wen1, Li Zhao1, Jianjun Liu1✉, Gang Huang1,2✉

1. Department of Nuclear Medicine, Renji Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai 200127, China.
2. Shanghai Key Laboratory of Molecular Imaging, Shanghai University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Shanghai 201318, China.
3. Department of Nuclear Medicine, The second Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University, Suzhou, Jiangsu 215004, China.
*These authors contributed equally to this work.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( See for full terms and conditions.
Hua Q, Mi B, Xu F, Wen J, Zhao L, Liu J, Huang G. Hypoxia-induced lncRNA-AC020978 promotes proliferation and glycolytic metabolism of non-small cell lung cancer by regulating PKM2/HIF-1α axis. Theranostics 2020; 10(11):4762-4778. doi:10.7150/thno.43839. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Rationale: Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is a deadly disease with a hallmark of aberrant metabolism. The mechanism of glycolysis associated lncRNA underlying the aggressive behaviors of NSCLC is poorly understood.

Methods: The expression level of AC020978 in NSCLC was measured by quantitative real-time PCR and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) assay. The biological role of AC020978 in cell proliferation and aerobic glycolysis was determined by functional experiments in vitro and in vivo. The transcription of AC020978 was assessed by dual-luciferase reporter and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assay. RNA pull-down, mass spectrometry and RNA immunoprecipitation (RIP) assays were used to identify the interaction protein with AC020978. Western blotting, in situ proximity ligation assay (PLA), and co-immunoprecipitation (co-IP) were performed to reveal the potential mechanism of AC020978.

Results: The present study indicated that AC020978 was upregulated in NSCLC, significantly correlated with advanced TNM stage and poor clinical outcomes, representing as an independent prognostic predictor. Functional assays revealed AC020978's role in promoting cell growth and metabolic reprogramming. Moreover, AC020978 was an upregulated lncRNA under glucose starvation as well as hypoxia conditions, and directly transactivated by HIF-1α. Mechanistic investigations identified that AC020978 directly interacted with Pyruvate kinase isozymes M2 (PKM2) and enhanced PKM2 protein stability. Besides, this study uncovered that AC020978 could promote the nuclear translocation of PKM2 and regulate PKM2-enhanced HIF-1α transcription activity.

Conclusions: Together, these data provided evidence that AC020978 conferred an aggressive phenotype to NSCLC and was a poor prognosticator. Targeting AC020978 might be an effective therapeutic strategy for NSCLC.

Keywords: Long noncoding RNAs, AC020978, PKM2, HIF-1α, aerobic glycolysis