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posted on 2021-08-11, 05:19 authored by Yuying Zhang, Baoyi Zhu, Minghui He, Yi Cai, Xiaoling Ying, Chonghe Jiang, Weidong Ji, Jianwen Zeng

Both lncRNAs and the N6-methyladenosine (m6A) modification are key regulators of tumorigenesis and innate immunity. However, little is known about the m6A modification of lncRNAs and their clinical and immune relevance in bladder cancer. In this study, we identified m6A-related lncRNAs using Pearson correlation analysis in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and the IMvigor210 datasets. Next, univariate Cox regression was performed using the TCGA dataset to filter prognostic m6A-related lncRNAs, which were further subjected to the least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (LASSO) Cox regression to establish a 12 m6A-related lncRNA prognostic score (m6A-LRS). The m6A-LRS was validated in the IMvigor210 dataset. In addition, high m6A-LRS tumors, characterized by decreased tumor mutation load and neoantigen load, showed poorer response to immunotherapy than those with low m6A-LRS in the IMvigor210 dataset. Further, we constructed an m6A-LRS-based nomogram that demonstrated a strong ability to predict overall survival in patients with bladder cancer. Moreover, enrichment analysis revealed that tumor-associated biological processes, oncogenic signaling, and tumor hallmarks were commonly associated with a high m6A-LRS. Gene set variation analysis also indicated that high m6A-LRS was associated with activation of canonical oncogenic signatures, such as the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, cell cycle regulators, and DNA replication, as well as activation of immunosuppressive signatures, such as the T-cell exhaustion and pan-fibroblast-TGF-β response signatures. Furthermore, we observed distinct tumor microenvironment cell infiltration characteristics between high- and low-risk tumors. High m6A-LRS tumors showed reduced infiltration of CD8+ T-cells and enhanced infiltration of macrophages and fibroblasts. Additionally, we established a competing endogenous RNA network based on the12 m6A-related lncRNAs. Finally, three lncRNAs (SNHG16, SBF2-AS1, and BDNF-AS) were selected for further validation. The qualitative PCR assay on 10 pairs of bladder cancer and adjacent normal control samples validated the differential expression, and methylated RNA immunoprecipitation (MeRIP) analysis demonstrated a robust m6A enrichment in T24 bladder cancer cells compared with normal uroepithelial cells (SVHUC-1). In conclusion, this study introduced an m6A-related lncRNA signature that identified a subgroup of patients with poor prognoses and suboptimal immune responses, thus providing novel approaches for treatment response prediction and patient stratification in bladder cancer.