Cancer Susceptibility Candidate 9 (CASC9) Promotes Colorectal Cancer Carcinogenesis via mTOR-Dependent Autophagy and Epithelial–Mesenchymal Transition Pathways

Md Zahirul Islam Khan, Helen Ka Wai Law

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer worldwide. Many recent studies have demonstrated that different long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are involved in the initiation, advancement, and metastasis of many cancers including CRC. Cancer susceptibility candidate 9 (CASC9) is an lncRNA that has been reported in many cancers, but its role in CRC is poorly understood. In this study, we aimed to examine the expression of CASC9 in CRC cell lines and to determine the mechanism of action of CASC9 in CRC carcinogenesis. Methods: The expression of CASC9 in CRC tissues was compared with normal samples from publicly available datasets in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and The Encyclopedia of RNA Interactomes (ENCORI). CASC9 expression was further verified in four CRC cell lines (DLD1, HT-29, SW480, and HCT-116) and normal colorectal cell line (CCD-112CoN) by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). After gene silencing in HCT-116 and SW480, Cell Counting Kit-8 assay, clonogenic assay, and wound healing assay were performed to evaluate cell proliferation, viability, and migration index of cells. Western blotting was used to explore the key pathways involved. Results: CASC9 was significantly upregulated as analyzed from both public datasets TCGA and ENCORI where its overexpression was associated with poor survival of CRC patients. Similarly, CASC9 was significantly overexpressed in the CRC cell lines compared with normal cells studied. The silencing of CASC9 in HCT-116 and SW480 attenuated cell proliferation and migration significantly. Furthermore, pathways investigations showed that silencing of CASC9 significantly induced autophagy, promoted AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) phosphorylation, inhibited mTOR and AKT signaling pathways, and altered epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) marker protein expression. Conclusion: We demonstrated that silencing of CASC9 contributes to the reduced CRC cell proliferation and migration by regulating autophagy and AKT/mTOR/EMT signaling. Therefore, CASC9 plays an important role in carcinogenesis, and its expression may act as a prognostic biomarker and a potential therapeutic target of CRC management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number627022
JournalFrontiers in Molecular Biosciences
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2021


  • autophagy
  • cancer susceptibility candidate 9
  • colorectal cancer
  • epithelial-mesenchymal transition
  • long non-coding RNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Biology

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