Higher levels of the molecule called HOTAIR silenced genes that usually suppress metastasis, as reported in Nature.

A group of researchers have figured out how levels of a specific long intervening noncoding RNA (lincRNA) in primary breast tumors regulate metastasis and tumor invasiveness. They say that increased levels of the lincRNA called HOTAIR resulted in reprogramming of epigenetic components of breast tumors, inducing cancer invasiveness and metastasis. Conversely, suppression of HOTAIR inhibited cancer invasiveness.

The study is titled “Long Non-coding RNA HOTAIR Reprograms Chromatin State to Promote Cancer Metastasis” and appears in the April 15 edition of Nature.

Life Technologies’ Applied Biosystems TaqMan® Non-Coding RNA Assays were used to measure expression levels of lincRNAs in a specific region of the genome in different breast cancer samples. The researchers found that the regulatory function of lincRNAs becomes impaired during breast cancer progression.

Further, expression levels of HOTAIR increased in primary breast tumors and during metastasis. Combining this data with results of other experiments in the study, the researchers report that high levels of HOTAIR in breast cancer tumors contribute to the epigenetic silencing of genes that suppress metastasis.

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