Target Enrichment Enables the Discovery of lncRNAs with Somatic Mutations or Altered Expression in Paraffin-Embedded Colorectal Cancer Samples

Colorectal Cancer

Cancers (Basel). 2020 Oct 1;12(10):E2844. doi: 10.3390/cancers12102844.


Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) play important roles in cancer and are potential new biomarkers or targets for therapy. However, given the low and tissue-specific expression of lncRNAs, linking these molecules to particular cancer types and processes through transcriptional profiling is challenging. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues are abundant resources for research but are prone to nucleic acid degradation, thereby complicating the study of lncRNAs. Here, we designed and

validated a probe-based enrichment strategy to efficiently profile lncRNA expression in FFPE samples, and we applied it for the detection of lncRNAs associated with colorectal cancer (CRC). Our approach efficiently enriched targeted lncRNAs from FFPE samples, while preserving their relative abundance, and enabled the detection of tumor-specific mutations. We identified 379 lncRNAs differentially expressed between CRC tumors and matched healthy tissues and found tumor-specific lncRNA variants. Our results show that numerous lncRNAs are differentially expressed and/or accumulate variants in CRC tumors, thereby suggesting a role in CRC progression. More generally, our approach unlocks the study of lncRNAs in FFPE samples, thus enabling the retrospective use of abundant, well documented material available in hospital biobanks.