Discovery of a novel long noncoding RNA overlapping the LCK gene that regulates prostate cancer cell growth

Huy Q. Ta, Hilary Whitworth, Yi Yin, Mark Conaway, Henry F. Frierson, Moray J. Campbell, Ganesh V. Raj, Daniel Gioeli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Virtually all patients with metastatic prostate cancer (PCa) will relapse and develop lethal castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are emerging as critical regulatory elements of many cellular biological processes, and may serve as therapeutic targets for combating PCa progression. Here, we have discovered in a high-throughput RNAi screen a novel lncRNA in PCa, and assessed the oncogenic effects of this lncRNA. Methods: Rapid amplification of cDNA ends and sequencing was utilized to identify a previously unannotated lncRNA lying within exon six and the 3'UTR of the lymphocyte-specific protein tyrosine kinase (LCK) gene. The levels of HULLK in the presence or absence of hormone and/or enzalutamide or coregulator inhibitors were measured by quantitative PCR (qPCR). The determination of HULLK transcription and localization were characterized by strand-specific qPCR and cellular fractionation followed by qPCR, respectively. The correlation between HULLK expression and prostate cancer Gleason score was analyzed by droplet digital PCR. CyQuant assays were conducted to evaluate the effects of knocking down HULLK with shRNAs or overexpressing HULLK on cell growth. Results: In this study, a previously unannotated lncRNA lying within exon six and 3'UTR of the LCK gene was dramatically upregulated by androgen in a dose-dependent manner, and the anti-androgen enzalutamide completely blocked this hormone-induced increase. Therefore, we labeled this lncRNA "HULLK" for Hormone-Upregulated lncRNA within LCK. Binding sites for two AR coregulators p300 and Brd4 reside near the HULLK transcriptional start site (TSS), and inhibitors of these coregulators downregulated HULLK. HULLK is transcribed from the sense strand of DNA, and predominantly localizes to the cytoplasm. HULLK transcripts are not only expressed in prostate cancer cell lines, but also prostate cancer patient tissue. Remarkably, there was a significant positive correlation between HULLK expression and high-grade PCa in multiple cohorts. shRNAs targeting HULLK significantly decreased PCa cell growth. Moreover, cells overexpressing HULLK were hypersensitive to androgen stimulation. Conclusions: HULLK is a novel lncRNA situated within the LCK gene that may serve as an oncogene in PCa. Our data enhances our understanding of lncRNA biology and may assist in the development of additional biomarkers or more effective therapeutic targets for advanced PCa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113
JournalMolecular Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 28 2019


  • Androgen receptor
  • LCK
  • Long noncoding RNA
  • Prostate cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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