Background Emerging evidence indicates that small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) play a central role in oncogenesis. Herein, we systematically evaluated expression profiles of snoRNAs in colorectal cancer (CRC) and investigated their clinical and functional role in this malignancy. Methods We compared expression levels of snoRNAs between cancer and normal tissues using publicly available datasets and identified the most differentially expressed and commonly upregulated snoRNAs in CRC. These results were examined in 489 colorectal tissues to assess their clinical significance, followed by a series of in vitro and in vivo experiments to evaluate the functional role of candidate snoRNAs. Results Using multiple RNA profiling datasets, we identified consistent overexpression of SNORA21 in CRC. In the clinical validation cohorts, the expression level of SNORA21 was upregulated in colorectal adenomas and cancers. Furthermore, elevated SNORA21 emerged as an independent factor for predicting poor survival. Both in vitro and in vivo experiments revealed that CRISPR/Cas9-mediated inhibition of SNORA21 expression resulted in decreased cell proliferation and invasion through modulation of multiple cancer related pathways. Conclusions We systematically identified SNORA21 as a key oncogenic snoRNA in CRC, which plays an important role in cancer progression, and might serve as an important prognostic biomarker in CRC.
- Colorectal cancer
- Distant metastasis
- Prognostic marker
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)