The modification of N6-methyladenosine (m6A) in RNA and its eraser ALKBH5, an m6A demethylase, play an important role across various steps of human carcinogenesis. However, the involvement of ALKBH5 in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) development remains to be completely elucidated. The current study revealed that the expression of ALKBH5 was increased in NSCLC and increased expression of ALKBH5 worsened the prognosis of patients with NSCLC. In vitro study revealed that ALKBH5 knockdown suppressed cell proliferation ability of PC9 and A549 cells and promoted G1 arrest and increased the number of apoptotic cells. Furthermore, ALKBH5 overexpression increased the cell proliferation ability of the immortalized cell lines. Microarray analysis and western blotting revealed that the expression of CDKN1A (p21) or TIMP3 was increased by ALKBH5 knockdown. These alterations were offset by a double knockdown of both ALKBH5 and one of the IGF2BPs. The decline of mRNAs was, at least partly, owing to the destabilization of these mRNAs by one of the IGF2BPs. In conclusions, the ALKBH5-IGF2BPs axis promotes cell proliferation and tumorigenicity, which in turn causes the unfavorable prognosis of NSCLC.

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