m6A demethylase ALKBH5 promotes proliferation of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma associated with poor prognosis

Yushi Nagaki, Satoru Motoyama, Tomokazu Yamaguchi, Midori Hoshizaki, Yusuke Sato, Teruki Sato, Yukio Koizumi, Akiyuki Wakita, Yuta Kawakita, Kazuhiro Imai, Hiroshi Nanjo, Hiroyuki Watanabe, Yumiko Imai, Yoshihiro Minamiya, Keiji Kuba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is one of the most fatal types of malignant tumors worldwide. Epitranscriptome, such as N6-methyladenosine (m6A) of mRNA, is an abundant post-transcriptional mRNA modification and has been recently implicated to play roles in several cancers, whereas the significance of m6A modifications is virtually unknown in ESCC. Analysis of tissue microarray of the tumors in 177 ESCC patients showed that higher expression of m6A demethylase ALKBH5 correlated with poor prognosis and that ALKBH5 was an independent prognostic factor of the survival of patients. There was no correlation between the other demethylase FTO and prognosis. siRNA knockdown of ALKBH5 but not FTO significantly suppressed proliferation and migration of human ESCC cells. ALKBH5 knockdown delayed progression of cell cycle and accumulated the cells to G0/G1 phase. Mechanistically, expression of CDKN1A (p21) was significantly up-regulated in ALKBH5-depleted cells, and m6A modification and stability of CDKN1A mRNA were increased by ALKBH5 knockdown. Furthermore, depletion of ALKBH5 substantially suppressed tumor growth of ESCC cells subcutaneously transplanted in BALB/c nude mice. Collectively, we identify ALKBH5 as the first m6A demethylase that accelerates cell cycle progression and promotes cell proliferation of ESCC cells, which is associated with poor prognosis of ESCC patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-561
Number of pages15
JournalGenes to Cells
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology


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