Breast cancer is currently the most diagnosed form of cancer and the leading cause of death by cancer among females worldwide. We described the family of long non-coding mitochondrial RNAs (ncmtRNAs), comprised of sense (SncmtRNA) and antisense (ASncmtRNA) members. Knockdown of ASncmtRNAs using antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) induces proliferative arrest and apoptotic death of tumor cells, but not normal cells, from various tissue origins. In order to study the mechanisms underlying this selectivity, in this study we performed RNAseq in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells transfected with ASncmtRNA-specific ASO or control-ASO, or left untransfected. Bioinformatic analysis yielded several differentially expressed cell-cycle-related genes, from which we selected Aurora kinase A (AURKA) and topoisomerase IIα (TOP2A) for RT-qPCR and western blot validation in MDA-MB-231 and MCF7 breast cancer cells, as well as normal breast epithelial cells (HMEC). We observed no clear differences regarding mRNA levels but both proteins were downregulated in tumor cells and upregulated in normal cells. Since these proteins play a role in genomic integrity, this inverse effect of ASncmtRNA knockdown could account for tumor cell downfall whilst protecting normal cells, suggesting this approach could be used for genomic protection under cancer treatment regimens or other scenarios.
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