MYC is an important oncogenic transcription factor in B-cell lymphoma and high MYC expression is associated with aggressive behavior and poor clinical outcome. A large number of genes are regulated by MYC, several of which are shown to contribute to the MYC induced phenotype. Long non-coding (lnc)RNAs have recently emerged as a novel class of regulatory RNAs acting at the epigenetic, transcriptional or posttranscriptional level. Aberrant expression of several lncRNAs has already been implicated in various aspects of tumorigenesis. It is currently unknown to what extend MYC can regulate lncRNA expression and whether these lncRNAs contribute to the pathogenesis of B-cell lymphoma.

Using an inducible MYC B cell lymphoma model and a custom microarray we investigated the expression >10,000 lncRNA loci and identified 1,820 lncRNA probes that show a MYC regulated expression pattern. Of these, 355 responded already after 4h, indicating direct MYC regulation. To identify transcripts relevant to lymphoma pathogenesis, we determined if these 355 lncRNAs were differentially expressed between primary lymphoma cases with high and low MYC expression and in addition also between MYC-high lymphoma cell lines and normal germinal center B cells. This revealed an overlap of 176 lncRNAs that were MYC regulated, aberrantly expressed in B cell lymphomas and differentially expressed between MYC-high and MYC-low lymphomas. Differential expression patterns were validated by qRT-PCR. As a first indication for lncRNA function, we isolated RNA from nuclear and cytoplasmic fractions of B cell lymphoma cell lines and determined enrichment fold in comparison to RNA isolated from the total cell lysates. Approximately 40% of all lncRNA transcripts showed specific subcellular localization, 80% nuclear and 20% cytoplasmic enriched. 31 of the 176 candidate lncRNAs were enriched in a specific cellular fraction. Furthermore, we analyzed which lncRNAs are enriched in Argonaute 2 containing complexes as an indication for lncRNA-miRNA interaction. For ∼5% of all expressed lncRNAs we found evidence for miRNA-lncRNA interactions, including 8 of the 176 differentially expressed MYC-induced lncRNAs.

This study identified 176 MYC responsive lncRNAs that are deregulated in B cell lymphoma. To establish a definitive role in B cell lymphoma pathogenesis a further characterization is warranted.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.