Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are essential drivers or suppressors in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) by participating in controlling transcription, translation, mRNA stability, and protein degradation protein-protein interaction. TM4SF1-AS1 is recently identified as a tumor-promoting factor in lung cancer. Nevertheless, its function in HCC and related molecular mechanisms remain unknown. Here, our data indicated that either hypoxia or hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) prolyl hydroxylase inhibitor (DMOG) induced the upregulation of TM4SF1-AS1 in HCC cells. HIF-1α knockdown rather than HIF-2α silencing remarkably abrogated hypoxia-upregulated TM4SF1-AS1 expression. Furthermore, we confirmed the elevated expression of TM4SF1-AS1 in HCC tissue samples and cell lines. The silencing of TM4SF1-AS1 prominently inhibited the proliferative, migratory, and invasive abilities of HCC cells. TM4SF1-AS1 depletion significantly blocked hypoxia-enhanced Hep3B cell proliferation and mobility. Interfering TM4SF1-AS1 remarkably reduced TM4SF1 mRNA and protein levels in HCC cells. But TM4SF1-AS1 knockdown did not impact the stability of TM4SF1 mRNA. Hypoxia enhanced the expression of TM4SF1 mRNA, which was subsequently decreased by TM4SF1-AS1 knockdown in HCC cells. We confirmed the positive correlation between TM4SF1 mRNA and TM4SF1-AS1 expression in HCC specimens. Finally, TM4SF1 prominently reversed the inhibitory role of TM4SF1-AS1 depletion in Hep3B cells. In summary, hypoxia-responsive TM4SF1-AS1 was overexpressed in human HCC and contributed to the malignant behaviors of tumor cells by enhancing TM4SF1-AS1 expression.
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