Published on July 27, 2018 in Oncotarget volume 9(58).
PubMed ID: 30131850
The mRNA modification N-methyladenosine (m6A) is involved in many post-transcriptional regulatory processes including mRNA stability and translational efficiency. However, it is also imperative to correlate these processes with phenotypic outputs during cancer progression. Here we report that m6A levels are significantly decreased in genetically-defined immortalized and oncogenically-transformed human mammary epithelial cells (HMECs), as compared with their primary cell predecessor. Furthermore, the m6A methyltransferase (METTL3) is decreased and the demethylase (ALKBH5) is increased in the immortalized and transformed cell lines, providing a possible mechanism for this basal change in m6A levels. Although the immortalized and transformed cells showed lower m6A levels than their primary parental cell line, overexpression of METTL3 and METTL14, or ALKBH5 knockdown to increase m6A levels in transformed cells increased proliferation and migration. Remarkably, these treatments had little effect on the immortalized cells. Together, these results suggest that m6A modification may be downregulated in immortalized cells as a brake against malignant progression. Finally, we found that m6A levels in the immortalized and transformed cells increased in response to hypoxia without corresponding changes in METTL3, METTL14 or ALKBH5 expression, suggesting a novel pathway for regulation of m6A levels under stress.