LINE-1 promotes tumorigenicity and exacerbates tumor progression via stimulating metabolism reprogramming in non-small cell lung cancer

Zeguo Sun, Rui Zhang, Xiao Zhang, Yifei Sun, Pengpeng Liu, Nancy Francoeur, Lei Han, Wan Yee Lam, Zhengzi Yi, Robert Sebra, Martin Walsh, Jinpu Yu, Weijia Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Long Interspersed Nuclear Element-1 (LINE-1, L1) is increasingly regarded as a genetic risk for lung cancer. Transcriptionally active LINE-1 forms a L1-gene chimeric transcript (LCTs), through somatic L1 retrotransposition (LRT) or L1 antisense promoter (L1-ASP) activation, to play an oncogenic role in cancer progression. Methods: Here, we developed Retrotransposon-gene fusion estimation program (ReFuse), to identify and quantify LCTs in RNA sequencing data from TCGA lung cancer cohort (n = 1146) and a single cell RNA sequencing dataset then further validated those LCTs in an independent cohort (n = 134). We next examined the functional roles of a cancer specific LCT (L1-FGGY) in cell proliferation and tumor progression in LUSC cell lines and mice. Results: The LCT events correspond with specific metabolic processes and mitochondrial functions and was associated with genomic instability, hypomethylation, tumor stage and tumor immune microenvironment (TIME). Functional analysis of a tumor specific and frequent LCT involving FGGY (L1-FGGY) reveal that the arachidonic acid (AA) metabolic pathway was activated by the loss of FGGY through the L1-FGGY chimeric transcript to promote tumor growth, which was effectively targeted by a combined use of an anti-HIV drug (NVR) and a metabolic inhibitor (ML355). Lastly, we identified a set of transcriptomic signatures to stratify the LUSC patients with a higher risk for poor outcomes who may benefit from treatments using NVR alone or combined with an anti-metabolism drug. Conclusions: This study is the first to characterize the role of L1 in metabolic reprogramming of lung cancer and provide rationale for L1-specifc prognosis and potential for a therapeutic strategy for treating lung cancer. Trial registration: Study on the mechanisms of the mobile element L1-FGGY promoting the proliferation, invasion and immune escape of lung squamous cell carcinoma through the 12-LOX/Wnt pathway, Ek2020111. Registered 27 March 2020 ‐ Retrospectively registered.

Original languageEnglish
Article number147
JournalMolecular Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • FGGY
  • LINE-1
  • LUAD
  • LUSC
  • Metabolic
  • Transposable element


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