Gene Summary

Gene:HCCS; holocytochrome c synthase
Summary:The protein encoded by this gene is an enzyme that covalently links a heme group to the apoprotein of cytochrome c. Defects in this gene are a cause of microphthalmia syndromic type 7 (MCOPS7). Three transcript variants encoding the same protein have been found for this gene. [provided by RefSeq, Jan 2010]
Databases:OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:cytochrome c-type heme lyase
Source:NCBIAccessed: 29 August, 2019


What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1994-2019)
Graph generated 29 August 2019 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

  • Disease Progression
  • Hepatitis B virus
  • Hepatocytes
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Tumor Escape
  • Staging
  • Gene Expression
  • Down-Regulation
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Mutation
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Apoptosis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Cell Movement
  • Signal Transduction
  • Neoplastic Cell Transformation
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Liver
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Phenotype
  • Liver Cancer
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • DNA Sequence Analysis
  • Carcinogenesis
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Sirtuin 1
  • Cancer Stem Cells
  • Hepatocellular Carcinoma
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Genetic Predisposition
  • DNA Methylation
  • RNA Interference
  • X Chromosome
  • Survival Rate
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Hepatitis B
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • c-MET
Tag cloud generated 29 August, 2019 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (1)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: HCCS (cancer-related)

Zhang H, Luo C, Zhang G
DNA Cell Biol. 2019; 38(8):857-864 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has been reported to be one of the major tumors in the world. There is a study indicating that MCM3AP-AS1 is an oncogenic factor in HCC; however, the mechanism by which MCM3AP-AS1 regulates HCC remains not fully understood. Reverse Transcription-quantitative PCR and Western blot approaches were used to detect mRNA and protein levels of various genes. To examine invasion of HCC cells and lymphatic vessel formation of human dermal lymphatic endothelial cells (HDLECs), we employed transwell invasion assay and lymphatic vessel assay. Bioinformatic analysis and luciferase reporter assay were used to establish direct interactions between MCM3AP-AS1 and miR-455. Besides, The Cancer Genome Atlas analyses of HCCs were performed to determine the association of MCM3AP-AS1 and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) with overall survival. MCM3AP-AS1 knockdown impaired invasion of HCC cells and lymphatic vessel formation of HDLECs. MCM3AP-AS1 directly interacted with miR-455. Furthermore, miR-455 inhibitor-transfected HepG2 cells enhanced the invasion and lymphatic vessel formation abilities. The rescue experiments indicated that EGFR was critical for MCM3AP-AS1- and miR-455-regulated invasion and lymphatic vessel formation. More interestingly, autophagy-related genes (Beclin1, LC3 II/I, and ATG7) were abnormally regulated in miR-455 mimic or inhibitor HepG2 cells. miR-455 mimic inhibited cell invasion and lymphatic vessel formation, which was evidently abrogated by ATG7 overexpression. Finally, we analyzed The Cancer Genome Atlas data sets to test the upregulated expression levels of MCM3AP-AS1 and EGFR. In addition, the results showed that low levels of both genes facilitate survival of HCC patients. In this study, we reveal a novel mechanism underlying MCM3AP-AS1-induced HCC metastasis by regulating miR-455. The conclusions provide more insights into understanding mechanism underlying HCC and help development of therapeutical approaches for treating HCC.

Song Y, Park IS, Kim J, Seo HR
Actinomycin D inhibits the expression of the cystine/glutamate transporter xCT via attenuation of CD133 synthesis in CD133
Chem Biol Interact. 2019; 309:108713 [PubMed] Related Publications
Liver cancer is one of the most frequently occurring types of cancer with high mortality rate. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) frequently metastasizes to lung, portal vein, and portal lymph nodes and most HCCs show strong resistance to conventional anticancer drugs. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are considered to be responsible for resistance to therapies. Hence, recent advancements in the use of liver cancer stem cells (LCSCs) are rapidly gaining recognition as an efficient and organized means for developing antitumor agents. We aimed to use a non-target-based high-throughput screening (HTS) approach to specifically target α-fetoprotein (AFP)

Longerich T, Endris V, Neumann O, et al.
Gut. 2019; 68(7):1287-1296 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: We aimed at the identification of genetic alterations that may functionally substitute for
DESIGN: Large cohorts of HCA (n=185) and HCC (n=468) were classified using immunohistochemistry. The mutational status of the

Wu H, Zhang G, Li Z, et al.
Thrombospondin-4 expression as a prognostic marker in hepatocellular carcinoma.
Gene. 2019; 696:219-224 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The extracellular calcium-binding protein family member thrombospondin-4 (THBS4) regulates cell migration, proliferation, attachment, adhesion, angiogenesis, neural development, tissue structure, organ development, pain signal transduction, and tumor growth. The aim of this study was to study THBS4 expression in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and determine if it was a prognostic marker for this malignancy.
METHODS: We used immunohistochemistry and tissue microarrays to evaluate THBS4 expression in 84 HCC and matched para-cancerous tissues. Then, we assessed relationships between THBS4 expression and clinicopathological parameters.
RESULTS: THBS4 expression was higher in HCCs than in matched para-cancerous tissues (P < 0.001). There was a significant correlation between high THBS4 levels and preoperative serum alanine aminotransferase (P < 0.04). In HCC patients, high THBS4 expression was associated with shorter overall and disease-free survival compared with low THBS4 expression. Additionally, subgroup analysis showed that high THBS4 levels were only associated with poor overall survival for alpha-fetoprotein >40 ng/mL (P = 0.028) and cirrhosis (P = 0.002). Multivariate analysis showed that high THBS4 expression was an independent prognostic factor for both overall and disease-free survival.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that THBS4 may play a role in HCC development, and thus may be an independent prognostic marker and/or potential therapeutic target for HCC patients.

Zhao J, Zhang Z, Nie D, et al.
PET Imaging of Hepatocellular Carcinomas:
Mol Imaging. 2019 Jan-Dec; 18:1536012118821032 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the preclinical value of
RESULTS: In vitro experiments showed that the radiotracer uptake patterns were complementary in the HCC cell lines. Orlistat and 5-tetradecyloxy-2-furoic acid decreased the uptake of
CONCLUSIONS: PET imaging with

Tan AT, Yang N, Lee Krishnamoorthy T, et al.
Use of Expression Profiles of HBV-DNA Integrated Into Genomes of Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells to Select T Cells for Immunotherapy.
Gastroenterology. 2019; 156(6):1862-1876.e9 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND & AIMS: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is often associated with hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. Cells of most HBV-related HCCs contain HBV-DNA fragments that do not encode entire HBV antigens. We investigated whether these integrated HBV-DNA fragments encode epitopes that are recognized by T cells and whether their presence in HCCs can be used to select HBV-specific T-cell receptors (TCRs) for immunotherapy.
METHODS: HCC cells negative for HBV antigens, based on immunohistochemistry, were analyzed for the presence of HBV messenger RNAs (mRNAs) by real-time polymerase chain reaction, sequencing, and Nanostring approaches. We tested the ability of HBV mRNA-positive HCC cells to generate epitopes that are recognized by T cells using HBV-specific T cells and TCR-like antibodies. We then analyzed HBV gene expression profiles of primary HCCs and metastases from 2 patients with HCC recurrence after liver transplantation. Using the HBV-transcript profiles, we selected, from a library of TCRs previously characterized from patients with self-limited HBV infection, the TCR specific for the HBV epitope encoded by the detected HBV mRNA. Autologous T cells were engineered to express the selected TCRs, through electroporation of mRNA into cells, and these TCR T cells were adoptively transferred to the patients in increasing numbers (1 × 10
RESULTS: HCC cells that did not express whole HBV antigens contained short HBV mRNAs, which encode epitopes that are recognized by and activate HBV-specific T cells. Autologous T cells engineered to express TCRs specific for epitopes expressed from HBV-DNA in patients' metastases were given to 2 patients without notable adverse events. The cells did not affect liver function over a 1-year period. In 1 patient, 5 of 6 pulmonary metastases decreased in volume during the 1-year period of T-cell administration.
CONCLUSIONS: HCC cells contain short segments of integrated HBV-DNA that encodes epitopes that are recognized by and activate T cells. HBV transcriptomes of these cells could be used to engineer T cells for personalized immunotherapy. This approach might be used to treat a wider population of patients with HBV-associated HCC.

Wei Y, Lao XM, Xiao X, et al.
Plasma Cell Polarization to the Immunoglobulin G Phenotype in Hepatocellular Carcinomas Involves Epigenetic Alterations and Promotes Hepatoma Progression in Mice.
Gastroenterology. 2019; 156(6):1890-1904.e16 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND & AIMS: Little is known about the composition and generation of plasma cell subsets in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and how these associate with outcomes. We investigated whether, or how, plasma cells differentiate and function in patients with HCC and mice with liver tumors.
METHODS: We analyzed subset composition and distribution of plasma cells in HCC samples from 342 patients who underwent curative resection at the Cancer Center of Sun Yat-sen University in China; samples of non-tumor liver tissue were used as controls. We associated plasma cell profiles with patient outcomes. Tissue-derived leukocytes were analyzed by flow cytometry and real-time polymerase chain reaction. The ability of macrophages to regulate plasma cell differentiation was determined in ex vivo cultures of cells from human HCC tissues. C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice were given injections of Hepa1-6 cells, which formed hepatomas, or H22 cells, which formed ascitic hepatomas. Gene expression patterns were analyzed in human HCC, mouse hepatoma, and non-tumor tissues by real-time polymerase chain reaction. Mice with hepatomas were given injections of GSK126 (an inhibitor of histone H3 lysine 27 methyltransferase [EZH2]) and 5-AZA-dC (an inhibitor of DNA methyltransferases); tumor tissues were analyzed by immunofluorescence and immunohistochemistry for the presence of immune cells and cytokines.
RESULTS: B cells isolated from HCCs had somatic hypermutations and class-switch recombinations to the IgG phenotype that were not observed in non-tumor tissues. Increased level of plasma cells correlated with poor outcomes of patients. Activated CD4
CONCLUSIONS: Human HCC tissues contain B cells with class-switch recombinations to the IgG phenotype. Activated CD4

Xiong L, Wu F, Wu Q, et al.
Aberrant enhancer hypomethylation contributes to hepatic carcinogenesis through global transcriptional reprogramming.
Nat Commun. 2019; 10(1):335 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC) exhibit distinct promoter hypermethylation patterns, but the epigenetic regulation and function of transcriptional enhancers remain unclear. Here, our affinity- and bisulfite-based whole-genome sequencing analyses reveal global enhancer hypomethylation in human HCCs. Integrative epigenomic characterization further pinpoints a recurrent hypomethylated enhancer of CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein-beta (C/EBPβ) which correlates with C/EBPβ over-expression and poorer prognosis of patients. Demethylation of C/EBPβ enhancer reactivates a self-reinforcing enhancer-target loop via direct transcriptional up-regulation of enhancer RNA. Conversely, deletion of this enhancer via CRISPR/Cas9 reduces C/EBPβ expression and its genome-wide co-occupancy with BRD4 at H3K27ac-marked enhancers and super-enhancers, leading to drastic suppression of driver oncogenes and HCC tumorigenicity. Hepatitis B X protein transgenic mouse model of HCC recapitulates this paradigm, as C/ebpβ enhancer hypomethylation associates with oncogenic activation in early tumorigenesis. These results support a causal link between aberrant enhancer hypomethylation and C/EBPβ over-expression, thereby contributing to hepatocarcinogenesis through global transcriptional reprogramming.

Ma W, Ho DW, Sze KM, et al.
APOBEC3B promotes hepatocarcinogenesis and metastasis through novel deaminase-independent activity.
Mol Carcinog. 2019; 58(5):643-653 [PubMed] Related Publications
Cytidine deaminase APOBEC3B (A3B) is known to play important roles in creating de novo genomic C-to-T mutations in cancers and contribute to induction of genomic instability. Our study evaluated the roles of A3B in the progression and metastasis of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Using whole-transcriptome and whole-exome sequencing, and quantitative PCR, we found that A3B was overexpressed in human HCCs and A3B expression was significantly correlated with the proportion of genomic C-to-A and G-to-T mutations. Upon clinicopathological correlation, higher A3B expression was associated with more aggressive tumor behavior. Wild-type A3B (wt-A3B) overexpression in HCC cells promoted cell proliferation, and cell migratory and invasive abilities in vitro, and tumorigenicity and metastasis in vivo. On the other hand, knockdown of A3B suppressed cell proliferation, migratory, and invasive abilities of HCC cells with high endogenous A3B level. However, to our surprise, overexpression of A3B deaminase-dead double mutant (E68A/E255Q) led to similar results as wt-A3B in HCC. Furthermore, overexpression of wt-A3B and mutant A3B both enhanced cell cycle progression in HCC cells. Altogether, our data demonstrated a novel deaminase-independent role of A3B in contributing to HCC tumorigenesis and metastasis.

Yang JW, Murray B, Barbier-Torres L, et al.
The mitochondrial chaperone Prohibitin 1 negatively regulates interleukin-8 in human liver cancers.
J Biol Chem. 2019; 294(6):1984-1996 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 08/02/2020 Related Publications
Prohibitin 1 (PHB1) is a mitochondrial chaperone whose expression is dysregulated in cancer. In liver cancer, PHB1 acts as a tumor suppressor, but the mechanisms of tumor suppression are incompletely understood. Here we aimed to determine PHB1 target genes to better understand how PHB1 influences liver tumorigenesis. Using RNA-Seq analysis, we found interleukin-8 (IL-8) to be one of the most highly up-regulated genes following PHB1 silencing in HepG2 cells. Induction of IL-8 expression also occurred in multiple liver and nonliver cancer cell lines. We examined samples from 178 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and found that

Augello G, Emma MR, Cusimano A, et al.
Targeting HSP90 with the small molecule inhibitor AUY922 (luminespib) as a treatment strategy against hepatocellular carcinoma.
Int J Cancer. 2019; 144(10):2613-2624 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a highly malignant tumor that responds very poorly to existing therapies, most probably due to its extraordinary inter- and intra-tumor molecular heterogeneity. The modest therapeutic response to molecular targeted agents underlines the need for new therapeutic approaches for HCC. In our study, we took advantage of well-characterized human HCC cell lines, differing in transcriptomic subtypes, DNA mutation and amplification alterations, reflecting the heterogeneity of primary HCCs, to provide a preclinical evaluation of the specific heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) inhibitor AUY922 (luminespib). Indeed, HSP90 is highly expressed in different tumor types, but its role in hepatocarcinogenesis remains unclear. Here, we analyzed HSP90 expression in primary human HCC tissues and evaluated the antitumor effects of AUY922 in vitro as well as in vivo. HSP90 expression was significantly higher in HCC tissues than in cirrhotic peritumoral liver tissues. AUY922 treatment reduced the cell proliferation and viability of HCC cells in a dose-dependent manner, but did not do so for normal human primary hepatocytes. AUY922 treatment led to the upregulation of HSP70 and the simultaneous depletion of HSP90 client proteins. In addition, in a cell type-dependent manner, treatment induced either both caspase-dependent β-catenin cleavage and the upregulation of p53, or Mcl-1 expression, or NUPR1 expression, which contributed to the increased efficacy of, or resistance to, treatment. Finally, in vivo AUY922 inhibited tumor growth in a xenograft model. In conclusion, HSP90 is a promising therapeutic target in HCC, and AUY922 could be a drug candidate for its treatment.

Lee M, Ko H, Yun M
Cancer Metabolism as a Mechanism of Treatment Resistance and Potential Therapeutic Target in Hepatocellular Carcinoma.
Yonsei Med J. 2018; 59(10):1143-1149 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 08/02/2020 Related Publications
Various molecular targeted therapies and diagnostic modalities have been developed for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); however, HCC still remains a difficult malignancy to cure. Recently, the focus has shifted to cancer metabolism for the diagnosis and treatment of various cancers, including HCC. In addition to conventional diagnostics, the measurement of enhanced tumor cell metabolism using F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) for increased glycolysis or C-11 acetate for fatty acid synthesis by positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) is well established for clinical management of HCC. Unlike tumors displaying the Warburg effect, HCCs vary substantially in terms of 18F-FDG uptake, which considerably reduces the sensitivity for tumor detection. Accordingly, C-11 acetate has been proposed as a complementary radiotracer for detecting tumors that are not identified by 18F-FDG. In addition to HCC diagnosis, since the degree of 18F-FDG uptake converted to standardized uptake value (SUV) correlates well with tumor aggressiveness, 18F-FDG PET/CT scans can predict patient outcomes such as treatment response and survival with an inverse relationship between SUV and survival. The loss of tumor suppressor genes or activation of oncogenes plays an important role in promoting HCC development, and might be involved in the "metabolic reprogramming" of cancer cells. Mutations in various genes such as

Kim H, Kim IS, Chang CL, et al.
T-Cell Receptor Rearrangements Determined Using Fragment Analysis in Patients With T-Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
Ann Lab Med. 2019; 39(2):125-132 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 08/02/2020 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Chromosomal abnormalities and common genetic rearrangements related to T-acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) are not clear. We investigated T-cell receptor (
METHODS: In 51 Korean patients diagnosed as having T-ALL,
RESULTS: Thirty-eight patients (74.5%) had 62 clonal products of
CONCLUSIONS: The overall detection rate of

Yang C, Cai WC, Dong ZT, et al.
lncARSR promotes liver cancer stem cells expansion via STAT3 pathway.
Gene. 2019; 687:73-81 [PubMed] Related Publications
Liver cancer stem cells (CSCs) have important functions in tumorigenesis, progression, recurrence and drug resistance of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). lncARSR has been reported to play an important role in the maintenance and self-renewal of renal cancer stem cells, but its role in liver cancer stem cells (CSCs) remains obscure. Herein, we observed high expression of lncARSR in chemoresistant hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs). A remarkable increase of lncARSR expression in EpCAM or CD133-positive liver CSCs as well as in CSC-enriched hepatoma spheres. Interference lncARSR suppressed liver CSC expansion by inhibiting the dedifferentiation of hepatoma cells and decreasing the self-renewal ability of liver CSCs. Mechanistically, we found STAT3 as the downstream of lncARSR in HCC cells. The special STAT3 inhibitor S3I-201 abolished the discrepancy in liver CSC proportion and the self-renewal capacity between lncARSR knockdown hepatoma cells and control cells, which further confirmed that STAT3 was required in lncARSR promoted liver CSCs expansion. More importantly, interference lncARSR HCC cells were more sensitive to sorafenib or cisplatin treatment. This maybe means that patients with low lncARSR levels benefited from cisplatin or sorafenib treatment, but patients with high lncARSR expression did not. Conclusion: lncARSR was upregulated in liver CSCs and could promote HCC cells dedifferentiation and liver CSCs expansion by targeting STAT3 signaling.

Liang JQ, Teoh N, Xu L, et al.
Dietary cholesterol promotes steatohepatitis related hepatocellular carcinoma through dysregulated metabolism and calcium signaling.
Nat Commun. 2018; 9(1):4490 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 08/02/2020 Related Publications
The underlining mechanisms of dietary cholesterol and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) in contributing to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remain undefined. Here we demonstrated that high-fat-non-cholesterol-fed mice developed simple steatosis, whilst high-fat-high-cholesterol-fed mice developed NASH. Moreover, dietary cholesterol induced larger and more numerous NASH-HCCs than non-cholesterol-induced steatosis-HCCs in diethylnitrosamine-treated mice. NASH-HCCs displayed significantly more aberrant gene expression-enriched signaling pathways and more non-synonymous somatic mutations than steatosis-HCCs (335 ± 84/sample vs 43 ± 13/sample). Integrated genetic and expressional alterations in NASH-HCCs affected distinct genes pertinent to five pathways: calcium, insulin, cell adhesion, axon guidance and metabolism. Some of the novel aberrant gene expression, mutations and core oncogenic pathways identified in cholesterol-associated NASH-HCCs in mice were confirmed in human NASH-HCCs, which included metabolism-related genes (ALDH18A1, CAD, CHKA, POLD4, PSPH and SQLE) and recurrently mutated genes (RYR1, MTOR, SDK1, CACNA1H and RYR2). These findings add insights into the link of cholesterol to NASH and NASH-HCC and provide potential therapeutic targets.

Cheng Z, Lei Z, Yang P, et al.
Long non-coding RNA THOR promotes liver cancer stem cells expansion via β-catenin pathway.
Gene. 2019; 684:95-103 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a highly aggressive liver tumor containing cancer stem cells (CSCs), which participate in tumor invasion, therapeutic resistance, and tumor relapse leading to poor outcome and limited therapeutic options. Recently, a novel lncRNA, THOR (testis-associated highly conserved oncogenic long non-coding RNA), was characterized in human cancers and shown to exhibit an oncogenic role. However, the role of THOR in liver cancer stem cells (CSCs) remains obscure. Herein, we observed high expression of THOR in chemoresistant hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs). A remarkable increase of THOR expression in OV6 or EpCAM-positive liver CSCs as well as in CSC-enriched hepatoma spheres. Interference THOR suppressed liver CSC expansion by inhibiting the dedifferentiation of hepatoma cells and decreasing the self-renewal ability of liver CSCs. Mechanistically, we found β-catenin as the downstream of THOR in HCC cells. The special β-catenin inhibitor FH535 abolished the discrepancy in liver CSC proportion and the self-renewal capacity between THOR knockdown HCC cells and control cells, which further confirmed that β-catenin was required in THOR promoted liver CSCs expansion. Moreover, interference THOR hepatoma cells were more sensitive to sorafenib treatment, indicates that HCC patients with low THOR expression may benefit from sorafenib treatment. Collectively, THOR was upregulated in liver CSCs and could promote HCC cells dedifferentiation and liver CSCs expansion by targeting β-catenin signaling.

Lien HC, Jeng YM, Jhuang YL, Yuan RH
Increased Trimethylation of histone H3K36 associates with biliary differentiation and predicts poor prognosis in resectable hepatocellular carcinoma.
PLoS One. 2018; 13(10):e0206261 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 08/02/2020 Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: Trimethylation of histone H3K36 (H3K36me3), an epigenetic marker of transcription-associated histone modification and stem cell regulation, is expressed in a variety of human cancers. This study elucidated the prognostic significance of H3K36me3 in patients with resectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
METHODS: Expression of H3K36me3 was retrospectively evaluated through immunohistochemistry in 152 surgically resected primary HCCs.
RESULTS: In nontumorous liver parenchyma, H3K36Me3 was detected in bile ducts but not in hepatocytes. H3K36me3 was positive in 104 (68.4%) of the HCCs. Positivity for H3K36me3 was associated with high level of serum α-fetoprotein (>200 ng/mL, P = 0.0148), high tumor grade (P = 0.0017), and high tumor stage (P = 0.0008). Patients with H3K36me3-positive tumors were more likely to have lower 5-year disease-free survival and 5-year overall survival than those with H3K36me3-negative tumors (P = 0.0484 and P = 0.0213, respectively). Multivariate analysis showed that H3K36me3 positivity was an independent predictor of high tumor grade (P = 0.0475) and high tumor stage (P = 0.0114) and thus contributed to poor prognosis. Furthermore, H3K36me3 positivity was significantly correlated with the expression of biliary markers cytokeratin 19 (CK19) and hepatocyte nuclear factor 1β (HNF1β) (P < 0.0001 and P = 0.0005, respectively). Combinatorial analysis revealed that CK19 and HNF1β expression individually exerted additive prognostic adverse effects on HCCs with H3K36me3 positivity.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study indicates that H3K36me3 positivity is associated with the expression of biliary markers and is a crucial predictor of poor prognosis in resectable HCC.

Virzì A, Roca Suarez AA, Baumert TF, Lupberger J
Oncogenic Signaling Induced by HCV Infection.
Viruses. 2018; 10(10) [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 08/02/2020 Related Publications
The liver is frequently exposed to toxins, metabolites, and oxidative stress, which can challenge organ function and genomic stability. Liver regeneration is therefore a highly regulated process involving several sequential signaling events. It is thus not surprising that individual oncogenic mutations in hepatocytes do not necessarily lead to cancer and that the genetic profiles of hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) are highly heterogeneous. Long-term infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) creates an oncogenic environment by a combination of viral protein expression, persistent liver inflammation, oxidative stress, and chronically deregulated signaling events that cumulate as a tipping point for genetic stability. Although novel direct-acting antivirals (DAA)-based treatments efficiently eradicate HCV, the associated HCC risk cannot be fully eliminated by viral cure in patients with advanced liver disease. This suggests that HCV may persistently deregulate signaling pathways beyond viral cure and thereby continue to perturb cancer-relevant gene function. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge about oncogenic signaling pathways derailed by chronic HCV infection. This will not only help to understand the mechanisms of hepatocarcinogenesis but will also highlight potential chemopreventive strategies to help patients with a high-risk profile of developing HCC.

Zahid KR, Han S, Zhou F, Raza U
Novel tumor suppressor SPRYD4 inhibits tumor progression in hepatocellular carcinoma by inducing apoptotic cell death.
Cell Oncol (Dordr). 2019; 42(1):55-66 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the leading causes of cancer-associated deaths worldwide. Although recent studies have proposed different biomarkers for HCC progression and therapy resistance, a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying HCC progression and recurrence, as well as the identification of molecular markers with a higher diagnostic accuracy, are necessary for the development of more effective clinical management strategies. Here, we aimed to identify novel players in HCC progression.
METHODS: SPRYD4 mRNA and protein expression analyses were carried out on a normal liver-derived cell line (HL-7702) and four HCC-derived cell lines (HepG2, SMMC7721, Huh-7, BEL-7402) using qRT-PCR and Western blotting, respectively. Cell proliferation Cell Counting Kit-8 (CCK-8) assays, protein expression analyses for apoptosis markers using Western blotting, and Caspase-Glo 3/7 apoptosis assays were carried out on the four HCC-derived cell lines. Expression comparison, functional annotation, gene set enrichment, correlation and survival analyses were carried out on patient data retrieved from the NCBI Gene module, the NCBI GEO database and the TCGA database.
RESULTS: Through a meta-analysis we found that the expression of SPRYD4 was downregulated in primary HCC tissues compared to non-tumor tissues. We also found that the expression of SPRYD4 was downregulated in HCC-derived cells compared to normal liver-derived cells. Subsequently, we found that the expression of SPRYD4 was inversely correlated with a gene signature associated with HCC cell proliferation. Exogenous SPRYD4 expression was found to inhibit HCC cell proliferation by inducing apoptotic cell death. We also found that SPRYD4 expression was associated with a good prognosis and that its expression became downregulated when HCCs progressed towards more aggressive stages and higher grades. Finally, we found that SPRYD4 expression may serve as a biomarker for a good overall and relapse-free survival in HCC patients.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data indicate that a decreased SPRYD4 expression may serve as an independent predictor for a poor prognosis in patients with HCC and that increased SPRYD4 expression may reduce HCC growth and progression through the induction of apoptotic cell death, thereby providing a potential therapeutic target.

Hofvander J, Viklund B, Isaksson A, et al.
Different patterns of clonal evolution among different sarcoma subtypes followed for up to 25 years.
Nat Commun. 2018; 9(1):3662 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 08/02/2020 Related Publications
To compare clonal evolution in tumors arising through different mechanisms, we selected three types of sarcoma-amplicon-driven well-differentiated liposarcoma (WDLS), gene fusion-driven myxoid liposarcoma (MLS), and sarcomas with complex genomes (CXS)-and assessed the dynamics of chromosome and nucleotide level mutations by cytogenetics, SNP array analysis and whole-exome sequencing. Here we show that the extensive single-cell variation in WDLS has minor impact on clonal key amplicons in chromosome 12. In addition, only a few of the single nucleotide variants in WDLS were present in more than one lesion, suggesting that such mutations are of little significance in tumor development. MLS displays few mutations other than the FUS-DDIT3 fusion, and the primary tumor is genetically sometimes much more complex than its relapses, whereas CXS in general shows a gradual increase of both nucleotide- and chromosome-level mutations, similar to what has been described in carcinomas.

Roy S, Hooiveld GJ, Seehawer M, et al.
microRNA 193a-5p Regulates Levels of Nucleolar- and Spindle-Associated Protein 1 to Suppress Hepatocarcinogenesis.
Gastroenterology. 2018; 155(6):1951-1966.e26 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2019 Related Publications
BACKGROUND & AIMS: We performed an integrated analysis to identify microRNAs (miRNAs) and messenger RNAs (mRNAs) with altered expression in liver tumors from 3 mouse models of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and human tumor tissues.
METHODS: We analyzed miRNA and mRNA expression profiles of liver tissues from mice with diethylnitrosamine-induced hepatocarcinogenesis, conditional expression of lymphotoxin alpha and lymphotoxin beta, or inducible expression of a Myc transgene (Tet-O-Myc mice), as well as male C57BL/6 mice (controls). miRNA mimics were expressed and miRNAs and mRNAs were knocked down in human (Huh7, Hep3B, JHH2) hepatoma cell lines; cells were analyzed for viability, proliferation, apoptosis, migration, and invasion. Cells were grown as xenograft tumors in nude mice and analyzed. We combined in silico target gene prediction with mRNA profiles from all 3 mouse models. We quantified miRNA levels in 146 fresh-frozen tissues from patients (125 HCCs, 17 matched nontumor tissues, and 4 liver samples from patients without cancer) and published human data sets and tested correlations with patient survival times using Kaplan-Meier curves and the log-rank test. Levels of NUSAP1 mRNA were quantified in 237 HCCs and 5 nontumor liver samples using the TaqMan assay.
RESULTS: Levels of the miRNA 193a-5p (MIR193A-5p) were reduced in liver tumors from all 3 mouse tumor models and in human HCC samples, compared with nontumor liver tissues. Expression of a MIR193A-5p mimic in hepatoma cells reduced proliferation, survival, migration, and invasion and their growth as xenograft tumors in nude mice. We found nucleolar and spindle-associated protein 1 (NUSAP1) to be a target of MIR193A-5p; HCC cells and tissues with low levels of MIR193A-5p had increased expression of NUSAP1. Increased levels of NUSAP1 in HCC samples correlated with shorter survival times of patients. Knockdown of NUSAP1 in Huh7 cells reduced proliferation, survival, migration, and growth as xenograft tumors in nude mice. Hydrodynamic tail-vein injections of a small hairpin RNA against NUSAP1 reduced growth of Akt1-Myc-induced tumors in mice.
CONCLUSIONS: MIR193A-5p appears to prevent liver tumorigenesis by reducing levels of NUSAP1. Levels of MIR193A-5p are reduced in mouse and human HCC cells and tissues, leading to increased levels of NUSAP1, associated with shorter survival times of patients. Integrated analyses of miRNAs and mRNAs in tumors from mouse models can lead to identification of therapeutic targets in humans. The currently reported miRNA and mRNA profiling data have been submitted to the Gene Expression Omnibus (super-series accession number GSE102418).

Kim HD, Song GW, Park S, et al.
Association Between Expression Level of PD1 by Tumor-Infiltrating CD8
Gastroenterology. 2018; 155(6):1936-1950.e17 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND & AIMS: T-cell exhaustion, or an impaired capacity to secrete cytokines and proliferate with overexpression of immune checkpoint receptors, occurs during chronic viral infections but has also been observed in tumors, including hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs). We investigated features of exhaustion in CD8
METHODS: We obtained HCC specimens, along with adjacent nontumor tissues and blood samples, from 90 patients who underwent surgical resection at Asan Medical Center (Seoul, Korea) from April 2016 through April 2018. Intrahepatic lymphocytes and tumor-infiltrating T cells were analyzed by flow cytometry. Tumor-infiltrating CD8
RESULTS: PD1-high, PD1-intermediate, and PD1-negative CD8
CONCLUSIONS: We found HCC specimens to contain CD8

Zhao K, Zhao Y, Zhu JY, et al.
A Panel of Genes Identified as Targets for 8q24.13-24.3 Gain Contributing to Unfavorable Overall Survival in Patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma.
Curr Med Sci. 2018; 38(4):590-596 [PubMed] Related Publications
Copy number aberrations (CNAs) in chromosome arm 8q have been associated with unfavorable clinical outcomes of several cancers and progressive tumor characteristics of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). This study was to identify correlation of CNAs in 8q with clinical outcomes of HCC patients, and further screen for differentially expressed genes in outcome-related CNAs. Array comparative genomic hybridization and expression arrays were performed to detect CNAs and expression levels, respectively. The correlations between CNAs in 8q and outcomes were analyzed in 66 patients, with a median follow-up time of 45.0 months (range, 2.6-108.6 months). One hundred and nine cases were further evaluated to identify differentially expressed genes in the potential outcome-related CNAs. Copy number gain in 8q was observed in 22 (33.3%) of the 66 HCC cases. The most recurrent gains (with frequencies >20%) were 8q13.3-21.3,8q21.3-23.3,8q23.3-24.13,8q24.13-24.3, and 8q24.3. Survival analysis showed that 8q24.13-24.3 gain was significantly associated with reduced overall survival (jP=0.010). Multivariate Cox analysis identified 8q24.13-24.3 gain as an independent prognostic factor for poor overall survival (HR=2.47; 95% CI=1.16-5.26; Р=0.019). Apanel of 17 genes within the 8q24.13-24.3 region, including ATAD2,SQLE,PVT1,ASAP1, and NDRG1 were significantly upregulated in HCCs with 8q24.13-24.3 gain compared to those without. These results suggest that copy number gain at 8q24.13-24.3 is an unfavorable prognostic marker for HCC patients, and the potential oncogenes ATAD2,SQLE, PVT1, ASAP1,and NDRG1 within the regional gain, may contribute coordinately to the 8q24.13-24.3 gain-related poor prognosis.

Fu SJ, Shen SL, Li SQ, et al.
Hornerin promotes tumor progression and is associated with poor prognosis in hepatocellular carcinoma.
BMC Cancer. 2018; 18(1):815 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2019 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The function of hornerin (HRNR), a member of the S100 protein family, is poorly clarified in the development of human tumors. The role of HRNR in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) progression is investigated in the study.
METHODS: The expression levels of HRNR were assessed in tumor samples from a cohort of 271 HCC patients. The effect of HRNR on proliferation, colony formation and invasion of tumor cells was examined. We further determined the role of HRNR in tumor growth in vivo by using xenograft HCC tumor models. The possible mechanism of the HRNR promotion of HCC progression was explored.
RESULTS: We found that HRNR was overexpressed in HCC tissues. The high expression of HRNR in HCCs was significantly associated with vascular invasion, poor tumor differentiation, and advanced TNM stage. The disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) of HCC patients with high HRNR expression were poorer than those in the low HRNR expression group. HRNR expression was an independent risk factor linked to both poor DFS (HR = 2.209, 95% CI = 1.627-2.998,P <  0.001) and OS (HR = 2.459,95% CI = 1.736-3.484, P <  0.001). In addition, the knockdown of HRNR by shRNAs significantly inhibited the proliferation, colony formation, migration and invasion of HCC tumor cells. HRNR silencing led to the decreased phosphorylation of AKT signaling. Notably, tumor growth was markedly inhibited by HRNR silencing in a xenograft model of HCC.
CONCLUSIONS: HRNR promotes tumor progression and is correlated with a poor HCC prognosis. HRNR may contribute to HCC progression via the regulation of the AKT pathway.

Verma A, Bal M, Ramadwar M, et al.
Clinicopathologic characteristics of Wnt/β-catenin-deregulated hepatocellular carcinoma.
Indian J Cancer. 2017 Oct-Dec; 54(4):634-639 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Activation of Wnt/β-catenin pathway has been implicated as a mechanism of oncogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). CTNNB1 mutation, which encodes for β-catenin, has been found to be the most common underlying genetic alteration. In this study, we evaluated the frequency of aberrant β-catenin expression in our cohort of HCC cases and explored its correlation with clinicopathologic features.
METHODS: Fifty-three cases of histologically proven HCC were included in this study. Nuclear expression (with or without cytoplasmic staining) in >5% tumor cells was regarded as positive for β-catenin. Comparison with clinicopathologic features of β-catenin-negative HCC cases (controls) was also done.
RESULTS: Nuclear β-catenin positivity was seen in 20 (37.7%) HCC cases. Median age was 60.5 years, and male-to-female ratio was 5.7:1. Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) levels were normal in half of the patients (P = 0.03). Approximately 36.8% of hepatitis B virus-related, 50% of hepatitis C virus-related, and 35% of viral marker-negative HCC were positive for β-catenin. Median tumor size was 8.7 cm. Majority (53%) of β-catenin-positive HCCs were unicentric, and a significant proportion (65%) displayed a well-differentiated histology (P = 0.11). No specific histological type was associated with β-catenin positivity. Although not statistically significant, more patients (57%) with β-catenin-positive HCCs developed recurrence or progressive disease than β-catenin-negative patients (35%).
CONCLUSIONS: Aberrant β-catenin expression was seen in a substantial proportion of our HCC cases. β-catenin-positive HCC was associated with normal AFP levels, unicentric tumors, well-differentiated histology, and an unfavorable outcome.

Jones KR, Nabinger SC, Lee S, et al.
Lower expression of tumor microRNA-26a is associated with higher recurrence in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma undergoing surgical treatment.
J Surg Oncol. 2018; 118(3):431-439 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients with hepatitis B virus (HBV) exhibit lower tumor microRNA-26a (miR-26a) expression which is associated with worse outcomes. It is unknown if similar miR-26a loss occurs in HCC developed in other liver diseases. We examined tumor miR-26a expression and its impact on recurrence and mortality in a North American HCC cohort.
METHODS: MiR-26a levels from tumor and surrounding nontumor liver tissue in 186 subjects were collected. We defined lower tumor expression of miR-26a as <1-fold that of the adjacent nontumor liver tissue.
RESULTS: Viral hepatitis (42%; 40% hepatitis C and 2% HBV), alcohol (19%), and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) (18%) were the most common causes of liver disease. The prevalence of lower tumor miR-26a expression was 68%, and it was evident in HCCs arising in all etiologies (viral hepatitis 60%, alcohol 61%, and NAFLD 76%). Subjects with lower tumor miR-26a expression had significantly higher tumor recurrence (hazard ratio [HR], 2.45; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.18 to 5.1; P = 0.016) and higher mortality of borderline significance (HR, 1.51; 95% CI, 0.94 to 2.41; P = 0.086).
CONCLUSION: Reduced miR-26a expression is a common phenomenon in HCC arising in North American patients with different underlying liver diseases and may increase recurrence and mortality after surgery.

Choi J, Chung T, Rhee H, et al.
Increased Expression of the Matrix-Modifying Enzyme Lysyl Oxidase-Like 2 in Aggressive Hepatocellular Carcinoma with Poor Prognosis.
Gut Liver. 2019; 13(1):83-92 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2019 Related Publications
Background/Aims: Lysyl oxidase-like 2 (LOXL2), a collagen-modifying enzyme, has been implicated in cancer invasiveness and metastasis.
Methods: We evaluated the expression of LOXL2 protein, in addition to carbonic anhydrase IX (CAIX), keratin 19, epithelial cell adhesion molecule, and interleukin 6, in 105 resected hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) by immunohistochemistry.
Results: LOXL2 positivity was found in 14.3% (15/105) of HCCs, and it was significantly associated with high serum α-fetoprotein levels, poor differentiation, fibrous stroma, portal vein invasion, and advanced TNM stage (p<0.05 for all). Additionally, LOXL2 positivity was significantly associated with CAIX (p=0.005) and stromal interleukin 6 expression (p=0.001). Survival analysis of 99 HCC patients revealed LOXL2 positivity to be a poor prognostic factor; its prognostic impact appeared in progressed HCCs. Furthermore, LOXL2 positivity was shown to be an independent predictor of overall survival and disease-specific survival (p<0.05 for all). Interestingly, co-expression of LOXL2 and CAIX was also an independent predictor for overall survival, disease-specific survival, disease-free survival, and extrahepatic recurrence-free survival (p<0.05 for all).
Conclusions: LOXL2 expression represents a subgroup of HCCs with more aggressive behavior and is suggested to be a poor prognostic marker in HCC patients.

Jiang W, Zhang C, Tian Z, Zhang J
hIL-15-gene modified human natural killer cells (NKL-IL15) exhibit anti-human leukemia functions.
J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2018; 144(7):1279-1288 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: Natural killer (NK) cells can kill transformed cells and represent anti-tumor activities for improving the immunotherapy of cancer. In previous works, we established human interleukin-15 (hIL-15) gene-modified NKL cells (NKL-IL15) and demonstrated their efficiency against human hepatocarcinoma cells (HCCs) in vitro and in vivo. To further assess the applicability of NKL-IL15 cells in adoptive cellular immunotherapy for human leukemia, here we report their natural cytotoxicity against leukemia in vitro and in vivo.
METHODS: Flow cytometry, ELISA and MTT methods were performed for molecular expression, cell proliferation and cytotoxicity assays. Leukemia xenograft NOD/SCID mice were established by subcutaneous injection with K562 cells, and then treated with irradiated NKL cells.
RESULTS: We found NKL-IL15 cells displayed a significant high cytolysis activity against both human leukemia cell lines and primary leukemia cells from patients, accompanied with up-regulated expression of molecules related to NK cell cytotoxicity such as perforin, granzyme B and NKp80. Moreover, cytokines secreted by NKL-IL15 cells, including TNF-α and IFN-γ, could induce the expression of NKG2D ligands on target cells, which increased the susceptibility of leukemia cells to NK cell-mediated cytolysis. Encouragingly, NKL-IL15 cells significantly inhibited the growth of leukemia cells in xenografted NOD/SCID mice and prolonged the survival of tumor-bearing mice dramatically. Furthermore, NKL-IL15 cells displayed stimulatory effects on hPBMCs, indicating the immunesuppressive status of leukemia patients could be improved by NKL-IL15 cell treatment.
CONCLUSIONS: These results provided evidence that IL-15 gene-modification could augment NK cell-mediated anti-human leukemia function, which would improve primary NK cell-based immunotherapy for leukemia in future.

Shih YL, Huang YH, Lin KH, et al.
Identification of Functional Thyroid Stimulating Hormone Receptor and
Anticancer Res. 2018; 38(5):2793-2802 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIM: Extra-thyroid expression of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) receptor (TSHR) has been reported in normal liver tissues, but never assessed in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Paired cancerous and non-cancerous HCC tissues were analyzed with TSHR expression assays. TSHR functional assessments and sequence analysis for the TSHR exon-10 were performed.
RESULTS: TSHR overexpression was found in 150/197 (76.1%) HCCs. Higher TSHR expression was associated with unfavorable postoperative outcomes. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed predominantly nuclei/peri-nuclei localization of TSHR in cancerous tissues but cell membrane localization in non-cancerous parts. TSH stimulation on hepatoma cells resulted in increased cyclic adenosine monophosphate levels with altered cell sensitivity to cisplatin. Gene mutations leading to TSHR truncation were detected in 8/81 (9.9%) HCC tissues.
CONCLUSION: Overexpression of TSHR was found in a great majority of HCC tissues and associated with unfavorable prognosis. Cell-based experiments and gene mutation analysis suggested that TSHR in HCCs was functional.

Chai N, Xie HH, Yin JP, et al.
FOXM1 promotes proliferation in human hepatocellular carcinoma cells by transcriptional activation of CCNB1.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2018; 500(4):924-929 [PubMed] Related Publications
The transcription factor Forkhead box protein M1 (FOXM1) plays critical roles in cancer development and progression, including human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, the regulatory role and underlying mechanisms of FOXM1 is still limited. Here, we found that the high level expression of FOXM1 and CCNB1 is closely associated with poor prognosis in HCC patients. And FOXM1 and CCNB1 were overexpressed concomitantly in liver tumor tissues. Knockdown of FOXM1 significantly inhibited the expression levels of CCNB1 in HCC cell lines at both the mRNA and protein levels. Mechanistic studies revealed that FOXM1 binds directly to the promoter region of CCNB1 and regulates the expression levels of the CCNB1 gene in the transcriptional level. Furthermore, the loss of functional and rescue experiments showed that CCNB1 is essential for FOXM1-driven proliferation in HCC cells. In the present study, our results partially explained the dysregulated expression of FOXM1 play an important role in proliferation of human hepatocellular carcinoma cells via transcriptional activation of CCNB1 expression. And it also highlights a FOXM1/CCNB1 axis could be a potential target for the treatment of HCCs.

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