Indexed on: 20 Apr '16Published on: 20 Apr '16Published in: Scientific Reports
Abnormally high activation of transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signaling has been demonstrated to be involved in the initiation and progression of keloids. However, the functional role of long non-coding RNA (lncRNA)-activated by TGF-β (lncRNA-ATB) in keloids has not been documented. Here we investigated the role of lncRNA-ATB in the autocrine secretion of TGF-β in keloid fibroblasts (KFs) and explored the underlying molecular mechanism. Using immunohistochemistry and quantitative RT-PCR analysis, we showed that lncRNA-ATB and ZNF217, a transcriptional activator of TGF-β, were overexpressed and miR-200c, which targets ZNF217, was under-expressed in keloid tissue and keloid fibroblasts. Through gain- and loss-of-function studies, we demonstrated that knockdown of lncRNA-ATB decreased autocrine secretion of TGF-β2 and ZNF217 expression but upregulated expression of miR-200c in KFs. Stable downregulation of ZNF217 expression decreased the autocrine secretion of TGF-β2. miR-200c was endogenously associated with lncRNA-ATB, and inhibition of miR-200c overcame the decrease in ZNF217 expression in KFs. Taken together, these findings indicate that lncRNA-ATB governs the autocrine secretion of TGF-β2 in KFs, at least in part, by downregulating the expression level of ZNF217 via miR-200c, suggesting a signaling axis consisting of lncRNA-ATB/miR-200c/ZNF217/TGF-β2. These findings may provide potential biomarkers and targets for novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for keloids.