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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in Scientific Reports, Volume 8, Issue 1, December 2018, Article number 14418.

The published version is available at Copyright © Kathuria et al.


The function of most long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) is unknown. However, recent studies reveal important roles of lncRNAs in regulating cancer-related pathways. Human antisense lncRNA-NKX2-1-AS1 partially overlaps the NKX2-1/TTF1 gene within chromosomal region 14q13.3. Amplification of this region and/or differential expression of genes therein are associated with cancer progression. Herein we show higher levels of NKX2-AS1 and NKX2-1 in lung adenocarcinomas relative to non-tumor controls but no correlation between NKX2-1-AS1 and NKX2-1 levels across specimens, or with amplification of the 14q13.3 region, suggesting that NKX2-1-AS1 and NKX2-1 are independently regulated. Loss-and-gain of function experiments showed that NKX2-1-AS1 does not regulate NKX2-1 expression, or nearby genes, but controls genes in trans. Genes up-regulated by NKX2-1-AS1-knockdown belong to cell adhesion and PD-L1/PD-1 checkpoint pathways. NKX2-1-AS1 negatively regulates endogenous CD274/PD-L1, a known target of NKX2-1, and the transcriptional activity of -1kb-CD274 promoter-reporter construct. Furthermore, NKX2-1-AS1 interferes with NKX2-1 protein binding to the CD274-promoter, likely by NKX2-1 protein-NKX2-1-AS1 interactions. Finally, NKX2-1-AS1 negatively regulates cell migration and wound healing, but not proliferation or apoptosis. These findings support potential roles of NKX2-1-AS1 in limiting motility and immune system evasion of lung carcinoma cells, highlighting a novel mechanism that may influence tumorigenic capabilities of lung epithelial cells.

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