Chuang Yang and Jing-Jing Zhang contributed equally to this work
Autophagy is a highly regulated biological process that mediates the degradation of intracellular components. It is required for tumor cell metabolism and homeostasis. Yin-Yang 1 (YY1) has been reported to be involved in autophagy in several carcinomas. However, its role in autophagy in pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest human malignancies, is unknown. Here, we investigated the function of YY1 in pancreatic cancer cells autophagy and its mechanisms of action.
The activity of cells undergoing autophagy was assessed using transmission electron microscopy, immunofluorescence, and Western blotting. A luciferase activity assay, real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR), and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) were also used to identify putative downstream targets of YY1.
YY1 was confirmed to regulate autophagy in pancreatic cancer cells. It was found to directly regulate the expression of miR-30a, a known modulator of autophagy-associated genes. Furthermore, overexpression of miR-30a attenuated the pro-autophagic effects of YY1.
Cumulatively, our data suggest that miR-30a acts in a feedback loop to modulate the pro-autophagic activities of YY1. Thus, autophagy in pancreatic cancer cells may be regulated, in part, by a tightly coordinated YY1/miR-30a regulatory circuit. These findings provide a potential druggable target for the development of treatments for pancreatic cancer.