Loss of miR-192-5p initiates a hyperglycolysis and stemness positive feedback in hepatocellular carcinoma

Yuanzhuo Gu, Fubo Ji, Niya Liu, Yongzhi Zhao, Xiyang Wei, Shiyuan Hu, Wei Jia, Xin Wei Wang, Anuradha Budhu, Juling Ji, Bin Zhao, Stephanie Roessler, Xin Zheng, Junfang Ji*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Emerging studies revealed that cancer stem cells (CSCs) possessed peculiar metabolic properties, which however remained largely unknown in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Genetic silencing of liver-abundant miR-192-5p was a key feature for multiple groups of CSC-positive HCCs. We thus aimed to investigate essential metabolic features of hepatic CSCs via using HCCs with miR-192-5p silencing as a model.

Methods: Datasets from two independent HCC cohorts were used. Data integration analyses of miR-192-5p with metabolome and mRNA transcriptome data in HCC Cohort 1 were performed to investigate miR-192-5p related metabolic features, which was further validated in Cohort 2. Cellular and molecular assays were performed to examine whether and how miR-192-5p regulated the identified metabolic features. Co-culture systems consisting of HCC cells and LX2 (human hepatic stellate cell line) or THP1 (human monocyte cell line) were established to explore effects of the identified metabolic properties on stemness features of HCC cells via interacting with co-cultured non-tumor cells.

Results: High levels of glycolysis-related metabolites and genes were present in HCCs with low miR-192-5p and CSC-positive HCCs in two independent HCC cohorts. miR-192-5p knockout cells displayed CSC features and miR-192-5p loss led to an enhanced glycolytic phenotype via upregulating three bona fide targets, GLUT1 and PFKFB3 (two glycolytic enzymes) and c-Myc (regulating glycolytic genes’ expression). Meanwhile, c-Myc suppressed miR-192-5p transcription, ensuring a low-miR-192-5p/high-c-Myc loop to maintain hyperglycolysis. Moreover, over-produced lactic acid from hyperglycolytic HCC cells stimulated the ERK phosphorylation of co-cultured LX2 and THP1 non-tumor cells partially via NDRG3 and MCT1, which in turn promoted cell malignancy and stemness of HCC cells. Consistently, HCC patients with low level of miR-192-5p in their tumor tissues and high level of NDRG3 or MCT1 in their non-tumor tissues had the shortest overall survival.

Conclusions: In CSC-positive HCCs, miR-192-5p loss enhanced glycolysis and over produced lactate might further increase HCC malignant features via interacting with environmental non-tumor cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number268
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

User-Defined Keywords

  • C-Myc
  • Cancer stem cell
  • Glycolysis
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • miR-192-5p


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