Mutant KRAS regulates transposable element RNA and innate immunity via KRAB zinc-finger genes.

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Transcriptomic analysis of oncogenic RAS signaling
Scientific Abstract:
RAS genes are the most frequently mutated oncogenes in cancer, yet the effects of oncogenic RAS signaling on the noncoding transcriptome remain unclear. We analyzed the transcriptomes of human airway and bronchial epithelial cells transformed with mutant KRAS to define the landscape of KRAS-regulated noncoding RNAs. We find that oncogenic KRAS signaling upregulates noncoding transcripts throughout the genome, many of which arise from transposable elements (TEs). These TE RNAs exhibit differential expression, are preferentially released in extracellular vesicles, and are regulated by KRAB zinc-finger (KZNF) genes, which are broadly downregulated in mutant KRAS cells and lung adenocarcinomas in vivo. Moreover, mutant KRAS induces an intrinsic IFN-stimulated gene (ISG) signature that is often seen across many different cancers. Our results indicate that mutant KRAS remodels the repetitive noncoding transcriptome, demonstrating the broad scope of intracellular and extracellular RNAs regulated by this oncogenic signaling pathway.