BackgroundThousands of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are aberrantly expressed in various types of cancers, however our understanding of their role in the disease is still very limited.MethodsWe applied RNAseq analysis from patient-derived data with validation in independent cohort of patients. We followed these studies with gene regulation analysis as well as experimental dissection of the role of the identified lncRNA by multiple in vitro and in vivo methods.ResultsWe analyzed RNA-seq data from tumors of 456 CRC patients compared to normal samples, and identified SNHG15 as a potentially oncogenic lncRNA that encodes a snoRNA in one of its introns. The processed SNHG15 is overexpressed in CRC tumors and its expression is highly correlated with poor survival of patients. Interestingly, SNHG15 is more highly expressed in tumors with high levels of MYC expression, while MYC protein binds to two E-box motifs on SNHG15 sequence, indicating that SNHG15 transcription is directly regulated by the oncogene MYC.The depletion of SNHG15 by siRNA or CRISPR-Cas9 inhibits cell proliferation and invasion, decreases colony formation as well as the tumorigenic capacity of CRC cells, whereas its overexpression leads to opposite effects. Gene expression analysis performed upon SNHG15 inhibition showed changes in multiple relevant genes implicated in cancer progression, including MYC, NRAS, BAG3 or ERBB3. Several of these genes are functionally related to AIF, a protein that we found to specifically interact with SNHG15, suggesting that the SNHG15 acts, at least in part, by regulating the activity of AIF. Interestingly, ROS levels, which are directly regulated by AIF, show a significant reduction in SNHG15-depleted cells. Moreover, knockdown of SNHG15 increases the sensitiveness of the cells to 5-FU, while its overexpression renders them more resistant to the chemotherapeutic drug.ConclusionAltogether, these results describe an important role of SNHG15 in promoting colon cancer and mediating drug resistance, suggesting its potential as prognostic marker and target for RNA-based therapies.