Cisplatin-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy has been shown to improve survival in patients with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), but clinical biomarkers to predict chemosensitivity remain elusive. Here, we show the long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) LINC01011, which we termed cisplatin-sensitivity-associated lncRNA (CISAL), controls mitochondrial fission and cisplatin sensitivity by inhibiting BRCA1 transcription in tongue SCC (TSCC) models. Mechanistically, we found CISAL directly binds the BRCA1 promoter and forms an RNA-DNA triplex structure, sequestering BRCA1 transcription factor-GABPA away from the downstream regulatory binding region. Importantly, the clinical relevance of these findings is suggested by the significant association of CISAL and BRCA1 expression levels in TSCC tumors with neoadjuvant chemosensitivity and overall survival. We propose a new model where lncRNAs are tethered at gene promoter by RNA-DNA triplex formation, spatially sequestering transcription factors away from DNA-binding sites. Our study uncovers the potential of CISAL-BRCA1 signaling as a potential target to predict or improve chemosensitivity.
Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.