Polyamines are oncometabolites that regulate the LIN28/let-7 pathway in colorectal cancer cells

Edwin A. Paz, Bonnie Lafleur, Eugene W. Gerner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Polyamine metabolism is a highly coordinated process that is essential for normal development and neoplastic growth in mammals. Although polyamine metabolism is a validated pathway for prevention of carcinogenesis, the mechanisms by which polyamines elicit their tumorigenic effects are poorly understood. In this study, we investigated the role of polyamine metabolism in colon cancer by screening a non-coding RNA (ncRNA) platform to identify polyamine responsive signaling nodes. We report that multiple non-coding RNAs are altered by polyamine depletion including induction of microRNA (miRNA) let-7i, a member of the tumor suppressive let-7 family. The let-7 family targets several RNAs for translational repression, including the growth-associated transcription factor HMGA2 and is negatively regulated by the pluripotency factor LIN28. Depletion of polyamines using difluoromethylornithine (DFMO) or genetic knockdown of the polyamine-modified eukaryotic translation initiation factor 5A isoforms 1 and 2 (eIF5A1/2) resulted in robust reduction of both HMGA2 and LIN28. Locked nucleic acid (LNA) oligonucleotides targeting the seed region of the let-7 family rescued the expression of HMGA2, but not LIN28, in both DFMO-treated and eIF5A1/2 knockdown cultures. Our findings suggest that polyamines are oncometabolites that influence specific aspects of tumorigenesis by regulating pluripotency associated factors, such as LIN28, via an eIF5A-dependent but let-7-independent mechanism while the expression of proliferation-related genes regulated by let-7, such as HMGA2, is mediated through microRNA mediated repression. Therefore, manipulating polyamine metabolism may be a novel method of targeting the LIN28/let-7 pathway in specific disease states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E96-E106
JournalMolecular Carcinogenesis
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - 2014


  • EIF5A
  • LIN28
  • Let-7
  • Oncometabolites
  • Polyamines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Polyamines are oncometabolites that regulate the LIN28/let-7 pathway in colorectal cancer cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this