Recently, long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) and the Warburg effect have been reported to play important roles in the radio-sensitivity of tumor cells. Survival correlates with pathologic responses to chemoradiotherapy and improving responses to radiation may translate into improved survival. This study aims to examine the effects and mechanisms of lncRNA DGCR5 and the Warburg effect on ESCC cell radiosensitivity. Levels of DGCR5, miR-195 and hexokinase 2 (HK2) expression in ESCC tissues and cells were determined and their clinical significance was analyzed. TE-1 and KYSE150 cells received a 6 Gy dose of X-ray radiation and their survival, proliferation and apoptosis were evaluated using colony formation assays, CCK-8 assays, and flow cytometry, respectively. Lactic acid production and glucose consumption were also examined in both cell types. Finally, the expression of apoptotic proteins was assessed using Western blotting. Analysis revealed that DGCR5 and HK2 were overexpressed in ESCC, while miR-195 was under expressed. Moreover, it was demonstrated that down-regulation of DGCR5 inhibited cell proliferation and promoted apoptosis, resulting in increased radiosensitivity by inhibition of the Warburg Effect. Conversely, overexpression of DGCR5 exhibited an opposite phenomenon in vitro. When investigating the mechanism, we identified that miR-195 was predicted to be a direct downstream target of DGCR5. Meanwhile, HK2 was predicted to be a direct downstream target of miR-195. Dual-luciferase reporter assays verified the direct interaction between these molecules. Finally, in vivo experiments were utilized to validate that knockdown of DGCR5 suppressed the Warburg effect via targeting of the miR-195/HK2 axis to increase the radiosensitivity of ESCC. Our study reveals that down-regulation of DGCR5 resulted in inhibition of the Warburg effect through interaction with the miR-195/HK2 axis increasing ESCC cell apoptosis after irradiation, thus enhancing cell radiosensitivity.

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