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:VEGA, OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:cytochrome c-type heme lyase
Source:NCBIAccessed: 13 March, 2017


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (6)
Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1992-2017)
Graph generated 13 March 2017 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.

  • Hepatocytes
  • Hepatocellular Carcinoma
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Models, Genetic
  • Gene Expression
  • Down-Regulation
  • X Chromosome
  • Cell Movement
  • Staging
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Liver Cancer
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Survival Rate
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Western Blotting
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Messenger RNA
  • DNA Methylation
  • c-MET
  • RNA Interference
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc
  • Disease Progression
  • Liver
  • Hepatitis B virus
  • Zinc Finger E-box-Binding Homeobox 1
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Sirtuin 1
  • Neoplastic Cell Transformation
  • Gene Silencing
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mutation
  • Hepatitis B
  • Base Sequence
  • Apoptosis
  • X-Linked Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein
Tag cloud generated 13 March, 2017 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)

Nishida N, Kudo M
Clinical Significance of Epigenetic Alterations in Human Hepatocellular Carcinoma and Its Association with Genetic Mutations.
Dig Dis. 2016; 34(6):708-713 [PubMed] Related Publications
Accumulation of genetic and epigenetic alterations is a hallmark of cancer genomes, including those in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Particularly, in human HCC, epigenetic changes are more frequently observed than genetic changes in a variety of cancer-related genes, suggesting a potential role for epigenetic alterations during hepatocarcinogenesis. Several environmental factors, such as inflammation, obesity, and steatosis, are reported to affect the epigenetic status in hepatocytes, which could play a role in HCC development. In addition, genetic mutations in histone modulators and chromatin regulators would be critical for the acceleration of epigenetic alteration. It is also possible that major genetic mutations of HCC, such as TP53 and CNTTB1 mutations, are associated with the disturbance of epigenetic integrity. For example, specific TP53 mutations frequently induced by aflatoxin B1 exposure might affect histone modifiers and nucleosome remodelers. Generally, epigenetic alteration is reversible, because of which dysregulation of transcription takes place, without affecting protein structure. Therefore, differentiation therapy is one of the potential approaches for HCC with advanced epigenetic alterations. On the other hand, a tumor carrying an accumulation of genetic mutations would result in many abnormal proteins that could be recognized as non-self and could be targets for immune reactions; thus, immune-checkpoint blockers should be effective for HCCs with genetic hypermutation. Although the emergence of genetic and epigenetic alterations could be linked to each other and there could be some crossover or convergence between these cancer pathways, characterization of the mutation spectrum of genetic and epigenetic alterations could influence future HCC treatment.

Ezzoukhry Z, Henriet E, Piquet L, et al.
TGF-β1 promotes linear invadosome formation in hepatocellular carcinoma cells, through DDR1 up-regulation and collagen I cross-linking.
Eur J Cell Biol. 2016; 95(11):503-512 [PubMed] Related Publications
Transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) is an important player in chronic liver diseases inducing fibrogenesis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development. TGF-β1 promotes pleiotropic modifications at the cellular and matrix microenvironment levels. TGF-β1 was described to enhance production of type I collagen and its associated cross-linking enzyme, the lysyl oxidase-like2 (LOXL2). In addition, TGF-β1 and type I collagen are potent inducers of invadosomes. Indeed, type I collagen fibers induce the formation of active linear invadosomes through the discoidin domain receptor 1 (DDR1). The goal of our study was to address the role of TGF-β1 in collagen cross-linking and its impact on the formation of linear invadosomes in liver cancer cells. We first report a significant correlation between expressions of TGF-β1, and type I collagen, LOXL2, DDR1 and MT1-MMP in human HCCs. We demonstrate that TGF-β1 promotes a Smad4-dependent up-regulation of DDR1, together with LOXL2, in cultured HCC cells. Moreover, we show that LOXL2-induced collagen cross-linking enhances linear invadosome formation. Altogether, our data demonstrate that TGF-β1 favors linear invadosome formation through the expressions of both the inducers, such as collagen and LOXL2, and the components such as DDR1 and MT1-MMP of linear invadosomes in cancer cells. Meanwhile, our data uncover a new TGF-β1-dependent regulation of DDR1 expression.

Ramesh V, Selvarasu K, Pandian J, et al.
NFκB activation demarcates a subset of hepatocellular carcinoma patients for targeted therapy.
Cell Oncol (Dordr). 2016; 39(6):523-536 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most common cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death worldwide. It is a heterogeneous disorder and >80 % of the tumors develop in patients with liver cirrhosis, resulting from chronic inflammation and/or fibrosis. Here, we set out to identify novel targets for HCC therapy and to define a subgroup of patients that might benefit most from it.
METHODS: Cellular pathway activation profiling of 45 transcription factors in a HCC-derived cell line (HEP3B), in vitro analysis of NFκB reporter activity in additional HCC-derived cell lines and pathway-focused integrative analyses of publicly available primary HCC-derived expression profiling data (GSE6764, GSE9843, E-TABM-36 and E-TABM-292) were employed to reveal a role of NFκB in HCC development. In order to identify potential targeting agents, a luciferase-based NFκB reporter screening assay was established in HEP3B cells. After screening of a drug library through this assay, a potent NFκB pathway inhibitor was identified and characterized using an array of additional in vitro assays.
RESULTS: Using cellular pathway activation profiling, we found a high activation of NFκB-mediated signaling in HCC-derived cell lines and in primary HCC tumors. Through NFκB inhibitor screening we observed a highly efficacious NFκB pathway inhibitory potential of ornithogalum in HCC-derived HEP3B cells. Although its active component still remains to be defined, ornithogalum has been found to inhibit endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and oxidative stress responses. ER stress, oxidative stress and NFκB signaling were found to be enhanced in a subset of HCCs, as well as in (precancerous) liver cirrhosis tissues.
CONCLUSION: From our data we conclude that NFκB signaling is activated in precancerous cirrhosis tissues and in a subset of HCCs. We found that ornithogalum exhibits NFκB targeting and stress relieving activities. NFκB inhibitors, including the active component of ornithogalum, may serve as putative preventive and targeted therapeutic agents for at least a subset of HCCs in which the NFκB pathway is activated. These latter notions require further investigation in a translational context.

Sajadian SO, Tripura C, Samani FS, et al.
Vitamin C enhances epigenetic modifications induced by 5-azacytidine and cell cycle arrest in the hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines HLE and Huh7.
Clin Epigenetics. 2016; 8:46 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: 5-Azacytidine (5-AZA), a DNA methyl transferase inhibitor, is a clinically used epigenetic drug for cancer therapy. Recently, we have shown that 5-AZA upregulates ten-eleven translocation (TET) protein expression in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells, which induce active demethylation. Vitamin C facilitates TET activity and enhances active demethylation. The aim of this study is to investigate whether vitamin C is able to enhance the effect of 5-AZA on active demethylation and to evaluate its consequence in HCC cell lines.
METHODS: HCC cell lines (Huh7 and HLE) were treated with 5-AZA and vitamin C. After 48 h of treatment, viability (resazurin conversion), toxicity (lactose dehydrogenase (LDH) release), and proliferation ((proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA)) of single- and combined-treated cells were assessed. The effect of the treatment on 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) intensity (immunofluorescence (IF) staining), TET, Snail, GADD45B, and P21 mRNA (real-time PCR) and protein expression (Western blot) were investigated.
RESULTS: Our results indicated that vitamin C enhances the anti-proliferative and apoptotic effect of 5-AZA in HCC cell lines. By further analyzing the events leading to cell cycle arrest, we have shown for the first time in HCC that the combination of 5-AZA and vitamin C leads to an enhanced downregulation of Snail expression, a key transcription factor governing epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) process, and cell cycle arrest.
CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that when combined with 5-AZA, vitamin C enhances TET activity in HCC cells, leading to induction of active demethylation. An increase in P21 expression as a consequence of downregulation of Snail accompanied by the induction of GADD45B expression is the main mechanism leading to cell cycle arrest in HCCs.

Shih YL, Kuo CC, Yan MD, et al.
Quantitative methylation analysis reveals distinct association between PAX6 methylation and clinical characteristics with different viral infections in hepatocellular carcinoma.
Clin Epigenetics. 2016; 8:41 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Related to genetic alteration, frequent promoter hypermethylation is also a contributing factor in the development of human cancers. Recently, we discovered numerous novel genes that were aberrantly methylated in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) by using Infinium HumanMethylation27 BeadChip array. We utilized a quantitative methylation-specific PCR (Q-MSP) system for the evaluation of PAX6 methylation in 29 normal controls and 160 paired HCC tissues and their adjacent non-tumor tissues. We verified the correlation between the methylation status of PAX6 and clinical characteristics with different viral status.
RESULTS: Paired-box 6 promoter methylation was observed in 39.4 %, 15.6 %, and 3.4 % in primary HCCs, adjacent non-tumors, and normal control tissues, respectively. Methylation of the PAX6 promoter region in HCCs significantly increased compared with control tissues. PAX6 was frequently methylated in HCV-positive HCC tissues (61.3 %) and rarely methylated in HBV-positive (22.1 %) and double-negative HCC tissues (33.3 %).
CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggests that promoter hypermethylation of PAX6 is a common event in HCCs and the association of PAX6 methylation in clinicopathological features is divergent with different viral status.

Levrero M, Zucman-Rossi J
Mechanisms of HBV-induced hepatocellular carcinoma.
J Hepatol. 2016; 64(1 Suppl):S84-101 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) contributes to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development through direct and indirect mechanisms. HBV DNA integration into the host genome occurs at early steps of clonal tumor expansion and induces both genomic instability and direct insertional mutagenesis of diverse cancer-related genes. Prolonged expression of the viral regulatory protein HBx and/or altered versions of the preS/S envelope proteins dysregulates cell transcription and proliferation control and sensitizes liver cells to carcinogenic factors. Accumulation of preS1 large envelope proteins and/or preS2/S mutant proteins activates the unfold proteins response, that can contribute to hepatocyte transformation. Epigenetic changes targeting the expression of tumor suppressor genes occur early in the development of HCC. A major role is played by the HBV protein, HBx, which is recruited on cellular chromatin and modulates chromatin dynamics at specific gene loci. Compared with tumors associated with other risk factors, HBV-related tumors have a higher rate of chromosomal alterations, p53 inactivation by mutations and overexpression of fetal liver/hepatic progenitor cells genes. The WNT/β-catenin pathway is also often activated but HBV-related tumors display a low rate of activating β-catenin mutations. HBV-related HCCs may arise on non-cirrhotic livers, further supporting the notion that HBV plays a direct role in liver transformation by triggering both common and etiology specific oncogenic pathways in addition to stimulating the host immune response and driving liver chronic necro-inflammation.

Wang Q, An Y, Yuan Q, et al.
Identification of allelic expression imbalance genes in human hepatocellular carcinoma through massively parallel DNA and RNA sequencing.
Med Oncol. 2016; 33(4):38 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a common malignant tumor worldwide. The prognosis and treatment of this disease have changed little in recent decades because the mechanisms underlying most events of this disease remain obscure. Allelic variation of gene expression is associated with many important biological processes, which provide a new perspective to understand HCC pathogenesis at the molecular level. To identify allelic expression imbalance (AEI) genes in HCCs, we developed a computational method that considered accurate mapping and vigorous AEI detection using paired DNA-seq and RNA-seq data. We analyzed the DNA-seq and RNA-seq data derived from two HCC samples and two cell lines. By applying a strict criterion, a total of 203 tumor-specific AEI genes were identified with high confidence, and several genes have been reported to be associated with the migration or proliferation of cancer cells, such as the genes RELN and DHRS3. In addition, we also found some novel AEI genes in HCCs, such as HNRNPR and PTAFR. Our study provides new insight into AEI events that may contribute to understanding gene expression regulation, cell proliferation and migration, and tumorigenesis.

Feng J, Zhu R, Chang C, et al.
CK19 and Glypican 3 Expression Profiling in the Prognostic Indication for Patients with HCC after Surgical Resection.
PLoS One. 2016; 11(3):e0151501 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
This retrospective study was designed to investigate the correlation between a novel immunosubtyping method for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and biological behavior of tumor cells. A series of 346 patients, who received hepatectomy at two surgical centers from January 2007 to October 2010, were enrolled in this study. The expressions of cytokeratin 19 (CK19), glypican 3 (GPC3), and CD34 were detected by immunohistochemical staining. The clinical stage was assessed using the sixth edition tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) system (UICC/AJCC, 2010).Vascular invasion comprised both microscopic and macroscopic invasion. The tumor size, lymph node involvement, and metastasis were determined by pathological as well as imaging studies. Recurrence was defined as the appearance of new lesions with radiological features typical of HCC, seen by at least two imaging methods. Survival curves for the patients were plotted using the Kaplan-Meier method, and differences between the curves were assessed using the log-rank test. Significant differences in morphology, histological grading, and TNM staging were observed between groups. Based on the immunohistochemical staining, the enrolled cases were divided into CK19+/GPC3+, CK19-/GPC3+ and CK19-/GPC3- three subtypes. CK19+/GPC3+ HCC has the highest risk of multifocality, microvascular invasion, regional lymph node involvement, and distant metastasis, followed by CK19-/GPC3+ HCC, then CK19-/GPC3-HCC. CK19+/GPC3+ HCC has the shortest recurrence time compared to other immunophenotype HCCs. CK19 and GPC3 expression profiling is an independent prognostic indicator in patients with HCC, and a larger sample size is needed to further investigate the effect of this immunosubtyping model in stratifying the outcome of HCC patients.

Cheong JY, Kim YB, Woo JH, et al.
Identification of NUCKS1 as a putative oncogene and immunodiagnostic marker of hepatocellular carcinoma.
Gene. 2016; 584(1):47-53 [PubMed] Related Publications
Although the molecular mechanisms underpinning hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are unknown, gene copy number and associated mRNA expression changes are frequently reported. Comparative genomic hybridization arrays spotted with 4041 bacterial artificial chromosome clones were used to assess copy number changes in 45 HCC tissues. Seventy more HCC tissues were used to validate candidate genes by using western blots and immunohistochemistry. A total of 259 clones were associated with copy number changes that significantly differed between normal liver and HCC samples. The chromosomal region 1q32.1 containing the nuclear casein kinase and cyclin-dependent kinase substrate 1 (NUCKS1) gene was associated with tumor vascular invasion. Western blot analysis demonstrated that NUCKS1 was up-regulated in 37 of 70 (52.8%) HCC tissues compared with adjacent non-tumor tissues, and over-expressed in a vast majority of HCCs (44/52, 84.6%) as determined by immunohistochemical staining. Furthermore, immunostaining of both NUCKS1 and glypican-3 improved the diagnostic prediction of HCC. Knock-down of NUCKS1 by siRNA implied the decrease in cell viability of the Hep3B cell line and reduced tumor formation in a xenograft mouse model. NUCKS1 was identified as a potential oncogene at chromosomal 1q32.1 in patients with HCC, and it might be a valuable immunodiagnostic marker for HCC.

Lindsay CR, Le Moulec S, Billiot F, et al.
Vimentin and Ki67 expression in circulating tumour cells derived from castrate-resistant prostate cancer.
BMC Cancer. 2016; 16:168 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: High circulating tumor cell (CTC) counts are associated with poor prognosis in advanced prostate cancer, and recently CTC number was suggested to be a surrogate for survival in metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). Ki67 and vimentin are well-characterised markers of tumour cell proliferation and the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), respectively. Here we asked if the expression of vimentin and Ki67 in CTCs offered prognostic or predictive information in mCRPC.
METHODS: In two separate patient cohorts, anti-vimentin or anti-Ki67 antibodies were added to the free channel in the CellSearch® system for analysis of peripheral blood samples. For each cohort, association of CTC number with clinical characteristics were assessed using Fisher's exact, Mann-Whitney and chi-squared tests. Kaplan-Meier method and log-rank tests were used to analyse overall survival (OS) of vimentin-expressing and Ki67-expressing CTC patient cohorts.
RESULTS: In this retrospective analysis, CTC vimentin expression was analysed in 142 blood samples from 93 patients, and CTC Ki67 expression was analysed in 90 blood samples from 51 patients. In the vimentin cohort, 80/93 (86 %) of baseline samples from patients were CTC-positive overall (≥1 total CTC per 7.5 mls blood), and 30/93 (32.3 %) vimentin CTC-positive (≥1 vimentin-positive CTC per 7.5 mls blood). 41/51 (80.4 %) of baseline samples from patients in the Ki67 cohort were CTC-positive overall, and 23/51 (45.1 %) Ki67 CTC-positive (≥1 Ki67-positive CTC per 7.5 mls blood). There was no significant difference in baseline PSA in patients with vimentin-positive CTC at baseline versus those with no vimentin-positive CTC at baseline (p = 0.33). A significant reduction in OS was shown in patients with vimentin-positive CTC compared to those without vimentin-positive CTC (median 305 days vs 453 days, p = 0.0293). There was no significant difference in baseline PSA in patients with Ki67-positive CTC at baseline versus those without Ki67-positive CTC (p = 0.228), but OS was significantly reduced in the Ki67-positive CTC group (median 512 days vs 751 days, p = 0.0091). No changes in relative proportion of vimentin- or Ki67-positive CTCs were observed in post-treatment samples compared to baseline.
CONCLUSIONS: Analysis of vimentin and Ki67 expression can straightforwardly be assessed in CTCs from patients with mCRPC. Poorer survival outcomes were observed in vimentin- and Ki67-positive CTC patients.

Samarin J, Laketa V, Malz M, et al.
PI3K/AKT/mTOR-dependent stabilization of oncogenic far-upstream element binding proteins in hepatocellular carcinoma cells.
Hepatology. 2016; 63(3):813-26 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
UNLABELLED: Transcription factors of the far-upstream element-binding protein (FBP) family represent cellular pathway hubs, and their overexpression in liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma [HCC]) stimulates tumor cell proliferation and correlates with poor prognosis. Here we determine the mode of oncogenic FBP overexpression in HCC cells. Using perturbation approaches (kinase inhibitors, small interfering RNAs) and a novel system for rapalog-dependent activation of AKT isoforms, we demonstrate that activity of the phosphatidylinositol-4,5-biphosphate 3-kinase/AKT pathway is involved in the enrichment of nuclear FBP1 and FBP2 in liver cancer cells. In human HCC tissues, phospho-AKT significantly correlates with nuclear FBP1/2 accumulation and expression of the proliferation marker KI67. Mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibition or blockade of its downstream effector eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E activity equally reduced FBP1/2 concentrations. The mTORC1 inhibitor rapamycin diminishes FBP enrichment in liver tumors after hydrodynamic gene delivery of AKT plasmids. In addition, the multikinase inhibitor sorafenib significantly reduces FBP levels in HCC cells and in multidrug resistance 2-deficient mice that develop HCC due to severe inflammation. Both FBP1/2 messenger RNAs are highly stable, with FBP2 being more stable than FBP1. Importantly, inhibition of phosphatidylinositol-4,5-biphosphate 3-kinase/AKT/mTOR signaling significantly diminishes FBP1/2 protein stability in a caspase-3/-7-dependent manner.
CONCLUSION: These data provide insight into a transcription-independent mechanism of FBP protein enrichment in liver cancer; further studies will have to show whether this previously unknown interaction between phosphatidylinositol-4,5-biphosphate 3-kinase/AKT/mTOR pathway activity and caspase-mediated FBP stabilization allows the establishment of interventional strategies in FBP-positive HCCs.

Kakehashi A, Ishii N, Sugihara E, et al.
CD44 variant 9 is a potential biomarker of tumor initiating cells predicting survival outcome in hepatitis C virus-positive patients with resected hepatocellular carcinoma.
Cancer Sci. 2016; 107(5):609-18 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
This study investigated whether the expression of CD44 variant 9 (CD44v9) might be a functional marker of tumor-initiating stem-like cells in primary hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) of hepatitis C virus (HCV)(+) patients and provide an indicator of patient survival, as well as associated mechanisms. A total of 90 HCV(+) HCC patients who underwent surgery from 2006 to 2011 were enrolled and monitored for 2-8 years. Expression of CD44v9 was validated immunohistochemically in all HCCs, followed by comparative proteome, survival, and clinicopathological analyses. CD44 variant 8--10 was further evaluated in diethylnitrosamine-induced HCCs of C57Bl/6J mice. Focally localized CD44v(+) cells with a membranous staining pattern were detected in human HCV(+) and mouse HCCs. CD44v9(+) cells of HCCs were predominantly negative for Ki67 and P-p38, indicating decrease of cell proliferation in the CD44v9(+) tumor cell population, likely to be related to suppression of intracellular oxidative stress due to activation of Nrf2-mediated signaling, DNA repair, and inhibition of xenobiotic metabolism. CD44v9 IHC evaluation in 90 HCV(+) HCC cases revealed that positive expression was significantly associated with poor overall and recurrence-free survival, a younger age, poor histological differentiation of HCCs, and high alkaline phosphatase levels compared with patients with negative expression. CD44v9 is concluded to be a potential biomarker of tumor-initiating stem-like cells and a prognostic marker in HCV(+) HCC patients associated with Nrf2-mediated resistance to oxidative stress.

Åman P, Dolatabadi S, Svec D, et al.
Regulatory mechanisms, expression levels and proliferation effects of the FUS-DDIT3 fusion oncogene in liposarcoma.
J Pathol. 2016; 238(5):689-99 [PubMed] Related Publications
Fusion oncogenes are among the most common types of oncogene in human cancers. The gene rearrangements result in new combinations of regulatory elements and functional protein domains. Here we studied a subgroup of sarcomas and leukaemias characterized by the FET (FUS, EWSR1, TAF15) family of fusion oncogenes, including FUS-DDIT3 in myxoid liposarcoma (MLS). We investigated the regulatory mechanisms, expression levels and effects of FUS-DDIT3 in detail. FUS-DDIT3 showed a lower expression than normal FUS at both the mRNA and protein levels, and single-cell analysis revealed a lack of correlation between FUS-DDIT3 and FUS expression. FUS-DDIT3 transcription was regulated by the FUS promotor, while its mRNA stability depended on the DDIT3 sequence. FUS-DDIT3 protein stability was regulated by protein interactions through the FUS part, rather than the leucine zipper containing DDIT3 part. In addition, in vitro as well as in vivo FUS-DDIT3 protein expression data displayed highly variable expression levels between individual MLS cells. Combined mRNA and protein analyses at the single-cell level showed that FUS-DDIT3 protein expression was inversely correlated to the expression of cell proliferation-associated genes. We concluded that FUS-DDIT3 is uniquely regulated at the transcriptional as well as the post-translational level and that its expression level is important for MLS tumour development. The FET fusion oncogenes are potentially powerful drug targets and detailed knowledge about their regulation and functions may help in the development of novel treatments.

Jeon Y, Kim H, Jang ES, et al.
Expression profile and prognostic value of glypican-3 in post-operative South Korean hepatocellular carcinoma patients.
APMIS. 2016; 124(3):208-15 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients commonly experience poor overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS) after curative surgical resection. Glypican-3 (GPC3) has been suggested as a prognostic biomarker for post-operative survival. However, few to none of these studies have included South Korean patients. This study aimed to determine GPC3 expression rate, clinical correlation, and post-operative prognostic value in South Korean HCC patients who underwent curative surgical resection. Surgically resected tissues from 185 HCC patients were collected and assembled into tissue microarrays (TMAs), which were stained for GPC3 by immunohistochemistry. GPC3 expression rates were correlated with clinicopathological information, and survival analyses were performed to assess the prognostic value of GPC3. GPC3 expression was present in 153 patients (82.7%). GPC3-positive patients were younger with higher frequencies of microvascular invasion and higher AFP levels than GPC3-negative patients. There was no significant difference in survival between GPC3-negative and GPC3-positive patients. Based on multivariate analysis, GPC3 expression was not a prognostic marker for post-operative survival. In South Korean HCC patients, GPC3 expression was more frequent in HCCs with aggressive features, but it was not an independent prognostic biomarker.

Zhou SL, Hu ZQ, Zhou ZJ, et al.
miR-28-5p-IL-34-macrophage feedback loop modulates hepatocellular carcinoma metastasis.
Hepatology. 2016; 63(5):1560-75 [PubMed] Related Publications
UNLABELLED: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play a critical role in regulation of tumor metastasis. However, the role of these molecules in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has not been fully elucidated. In this study, we employed miRNA-sequencing and identified 22 miRNAs involved in HCC metastasis. One of these, miR-28-5p, was down-regulated in HCCs. This down-regulation correlated with tumor metastasis, recurrence, and poor survival. Biofunctional investigations revealed that miR-28-5p deficiency promoted tumor growth and metastasis in nude mice without altering the in vitro biological characteristics of HCC cells. Through gene expression profiles and bioinformatics analysis, we identified interleukin-34 (IL-34) as a direct target of miR-28-5p, and the effects of miR-28-5p deficiency on HCC growth and metastasis was dependent on IL-34-mediated tumor-associated macrophage (TAM) infiltration. Moreover, we found that TAMs induced by miR-28-5p-IL-34 signaling inhibit miR-28-5p expression on HCC cells by transforming growth factor beta 1, resulting in an miR-28-5p-IL-34-macrophage-positive feedback loop. In clinical HCC samples, miR-28-5p levels were inversely correlated with IL-34 expression and the number of TAMs. Patients with low miR-28-5p expression, high IL-34 levels, and high numbers of TAMs had a poor prognosis with shorter overall survival and time to recurrence.
CONCLUSION: A miR-28-5p-IL-34-macrophage feedback loop modulates HCC metastasis and serves as a novel prognostic factor as well as a therapeutic target for HCC.

Xue R, Li R, Guo H, et al.
Variable Intra-Tumor Genomic Heterogeneity of Multiple Lesions in Patients With Hepatocellular Carcinoma.
Gastroenterology. 2016; 150(4):998-1008 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND & AIMS: Many patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) have multiple lesions (primary tumors, intrahepatic metastases, multiple occurrences, satellite nodules, and tumor thrombi); these have been associated with a poor prognosis and tumor recurrence after surgery. We investigated the clonal relationship among these lesions on the basis of genetic features.
METHODS: We collected 43 lesions and 10 matched control samples (blood or nontumorous liver) from 10 patients with hepatitis B virus-associated HCC treated at Tianjin Cancer Hospital (China) from January 2013 through May 2014. We performed exome and low-depth, whole-genome sequencing on these samples. Genomic aberrations, including somatic mutations and copy number variations, were identified using germline DNA as control. We compared the genetic features of different lesions from each patient and constructed phylogenetic trees to depict their evolutionary histories.
RESULTS: In each patient, mutations shared by all the lesions were called ubiquitous mutations. The percentage of ubiquitous mutations varied from 8% to 97% among patients, indicating variation in the extent of intratumor heterogeneity. Branched evolution was evident, with somatic mutations, hepatitis B virus integrations, and copy number variations identified on both the trunks and branches of the phylogenetic trees. Intrahepatic metastases and tumor thrombi contained some, but not all, of the mutations detected in their matched primary lesions. By contrast, satellite nodules shared approximately 90% of mutations detected in primary lesions. In a patient with multicentric tumors, 6 lesions were assigned to 2 distinct groups, based on significant differences in genetic features. In another patient with combined hepatocellular and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, the physically separate HCC and cholangiocarcinoma lesions shared 102 mutations.
CONCLUSIONS: The extent of intratumor heterogeneity varies considerably among patients with HCC. Therefore, sequence analysis of a single lesion cannot completely characterize the genomic features of HCC in some patients. Genomic comparisons of multiple lesions associated with HCCs will provide important information on the genetic changes associated with tumor progression.

Xiao S, Chang RM, Yang MY, et al.
Actin-like 6A predicts poor prognosis of hepatocellular carcinoma and promotes metastasis and epithelial-mesenchymal transition.
Hepatology. 2016; 63(4):1256-71 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
UNLABELLED: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most lethal cancers worldwide because of metastasis. Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is widely considered to be crucial to the invasion-metastasis cascade during cancer progression. Actin-like 6A (ACTL6A) is initially verified important for cell proliferation, differentiation, and migration. In this study, we find that ACTL6A plays an essential role in metastasis and EMT of HCC. ACTL6A expression is up-regulated in HCC cells and tissues. A high level of ACTL6A in HCCs is correlated with aggressive clinicopathological features and is an independent poor prognostic factor for overall and disease-free survival of HCC patients. Ectopic expression of ACTL6A markedly promotes HCC cells migration, invasion, as well as EMT in vitro and promotes tumor growth and metastasis in the mouse xenograft model. Opposite results are observed when ACTL6A is knocked down. Mechanistically, ACTL6A promotes metastasis and EMT through activating Notch signaling. ACTL6A knockdown has the equal blockage effect as the Notch signaling inhibitor, N-[N-(3,5-difluorophenacetyl)-L-alanyl]-S-phenylglycine t-butylester, in HCC cells. Further studies indicate that ACTL6A might manipulate SRY (sex determining region Y)-box 2 (SOX2) expression and then activate Notch1 signaling.
CONCLUSIONS: ACTL6A promotes metastasis and EMT by SOX2/Notch1 signaling, indicating a prognostic biomarker candidate and a potential therapeutic target for HCC.

Wang MD, Wu H, Fu GB, et al.
Acetyl-coenzyme A carboxylase alpha promotion of glucose-mediated fatty acid synthesis enhances survival of hepatocellular carcinoma in mice and patients.
Hepatology. 2016; 63(4):1272-86 [PubMed] Related Publications
UNLABELLED: Solid tumors often suffer from suboptimal oxygen and nutrient supplies. This stress underlies the requirement for metabolic adaptation. Aberrantly activated de novo lipogenesis is critical for development and progression of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, whether de novo lipogenesis influences biological behaviors of HCCs under conditions of metabolic stress are still poorly understood. Here, we show that HCCs display distinct levels of glucose-derived de novo lipogenesis, which are positively correlated with their survival responses to glucose limitation. The enhanced lipogenesis in HCCs is characterized by an increased expression of rate-limiting enzyme acetyl-coenzyme A carboxylase alpha (ACCα). ACCα-mediated fatty acid (FA) synthesis determines the intracellular lipid content that is required to maintain energy hemostasis and inhibit cell death by means of FA oxidation (FAO) during metabolic stress. In accord, overexpression of ACCα facilitates tumor growth. ACCα forms a complex with carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A (CPT1A) and prevents its mitochondria distribution under nutrient-sufficient conditions. During metabolic stress, phosphorylation of ACCα leads to dissociation of the complex and mitochondria localization of CPT1A, thus promoting FAO-mediated cell survival. Therefore, ACCα could provide both the substrate and enzyme storage for FAO during glucose deficiency. Up-regulation of ACCα is also significantly correlated with poorer overall survival and disease recurrence postsurgery. Multivariate Cox's regression analysis identified ACCα as an effective predictor of poor prognosis.
CONCLUSION: These results present novel mechanistic insight into a pivotal role of ACCα in maintaining HCC survival under metabolic stress. It could be exploited as a novel diagnostic marker and therapeutic target.

Shi JY, Xing Q, Duan M, et al.
Inferring the progression of multifocal liver cancer from spatial and temporal genomic heterogeneity.
Oncotarget. 2016; 7(3):2867-77 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Multifocal tumors developed either as independent tumors or as intrahepatic metastases, are very common in primary liver cancer. However, their molecular pathogenesis remains elusive. Herein, a patient with synchronous two hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC, designated as HCC-A and HCC-B) and one intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC), as well as two postoperative recurrent tumors, was enrolled. Multiregional whole-exome sequencing was applied to these tumors to delineate the clonality and heterogeneity. The three primary tumors showed almost no overlaps in mutations and copy number variations. Within each tumor, multiregional sequencing data showed varied intratumoral heterogeneity (21.6% in HCC-A, 20.4% in HCC-B, 53.2% in ICC). The mutational profile of two recurrent tumors showed obvious similarity with HCC-A (86.7% and 86.6% respectively), rather than others, indicating that they originated from HCC-A. The evolutionary history of the two recurrent tumors indicated that intrahepatic micro-metastasis could be an early event during HCC progression. Notably, FAT4 was the only gene mutated in two primary HCCs and the recurrences. Mutation prevalence screen and functional experiments showed that FAT4, harboring somatic coding mutations in 26.7% of HCC, could potently inhibit growth and invasion of HCC cells. In HCC patients, both FAT4 expression and FAT4 mutational status significantly correlated with patient prognosis. Together, our findings suggest that spatial and temporal dissection of genomic alterations during the progression of multifocal liver cancer may help to elucidate the basis for its dismal prognosis. FAT4 acts as a putative tumor suppressor that is frequently inactivated in human HCC.

Mattu S, Fornari F, Quagliata L, et al.
The metabolic gene HAO2 is downregulated in hepatocellular carcinoma and predicts metastasis and poor survival.
J Hepatol. 2016; 64(4):891-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND & AIMS: l-2-Hydroxy acid oxidases are flavin mononucleotide-dependent peroxisomal enzymes, responsible for the oxidation of l-2-hydroxy acids to ketoacids, resulting in the formation of hydrogen peroxide. We investigated the role of HAO2, a member of this family, in rat, mouse and human hepatocarcinogenesis.
METHODS: We evaluated Hao2 expression by qRT-PCR in the following rodent models of hepatocarcinogenesis: the Resistant-Hepatocyte, the CMD and the chronic DENA rat models, and the TCPOBOP/DENA and TCPOBOP only mouse models. Microarray and qRT-PCR analyses were performed on two cohorts of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients. Rat HCC cells were transduced by a Hao2 encoding lentiviral vector and grafted in mice.
RESULTS: Downregulation of Hao2 was observed in all investigated rodent models of hepatocarcinogenesis. Interestingly, Hao2 mRNA levels were also profoundly downregulated in early preneoplastic lesions. Moreover, HAO2 mRNA levels were strongly downregulated in two distinct series of human HCCs, when compared to both normal and cirrhotic peri-tumoral liver. HAO2 levels were inversely correlated with grading, overall survival and metastatic ability. Finally, exogenous expression of Hao2 in rat cells impaired their tumorigenic ability.
CONCLUSION: Our work identifies for the first time the oncosuppressive role of the metabolic gene Hao2. Indeed, its expression is severely decreased in HCC of different species and etiology, and its reintroduction in HCC cells profoundly impairs tumorigenesis. We also demonstrate that dysregulation of HAO2 is a very early event in the development of HCC and it may represent a useful diagnostic and prognostic marker for human HCC.

Liu T, Chen J, Xiao S, Lei X
H2.0-like homeobox 1 acts as a tumor suppressor in hepatocellular carcinoma.
Tumour Biol. 2016; 37(5):6419-28 [PubMed] Related Publications
H2.0-like homeobox 1 (HLX1) is a homeobox transcription factor gene expressed primarily in cytotrophoblast cell types in the early pregnancy human placenta and involved in the development of enteric nervous system. However, the biological function of HLX1 in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains unclear. In the present study, semiquantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), quantitative real-time RT-PCR, western blot, and immunohistochemical staining were used to examine the expression level of HLX1 in a total of 125 cases of HCC tissues and their matched adjacent nontumorous tissues (ANLTs), and its correlation with clinical features of HCC patients was analyzed. Our findings showed that the expression level of HLX1 was significantly reduced in HCCs compared to ANLTs. Besides, it was also remarkably downregulated in HCC cell lines compared to normal liver cell line. We further found that the HLX1 level was significantly associated with the tumor size (p = 0.016), tumor number (p = 0.004), vascular invasion (p = 0.031), Edmondson-Steiner grade (p = 0.041), tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) stage (p < 0.001), and Barcelona clinic liver cancer (BCLC) stage (p = 0.008). Moreover, HLX1 was an independent risk factor for overall survival (OS, p = 0.020) and disease-free survival (DFS, p = 0.024) of HCC patients. In vitro experiments showed that overexpression of HLX1 markedly suppressed the invasion, migration, proliferation, and colony formation of HCC cells; in contrast, downregulation of HLX1 significantly promoted the invasion, migration, proliferation, and colony formation of HCC cells. In vivo study indicated that overexpression of HLX1 significantly inhibited the tumorigenic capacity of HCC cells in nude mice. Based on these findings, we suggest that HLX1 acts as a tumor suppressor in HCC.

Kong DH, Li S, Du ZX, et al.
BAG3 elevation inhibits cell proliferation via direct interaction with G6PD in hepatocellular carcinomas.
Oncotarget. 2016; 7(1):700-11 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Bcl-2 associated athanogene 3 (BAG3) contains multiple protein-binding motifs to mediate potential interactions with chaperons and/or other proteins, which is possibly ascribed to the multifaceted functions assigned to BAG3. The current study demonstrated that BAG3 directly interacted with glucose 6 phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD), the rate-limiting enzyme of the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP). BAG3 suppressed the PPP flux, de novo DNA synthesis and cell growth in hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs). The growth defect of HCCs with forced BAG3 expression can be rescued by enforced G6PD expression. However, BAG3 elevation did not cause a reduction in cellular NADPH concentrations, another main product of G6PD. In addition, supplement of nucleosides alone was sufficient to recover the growth defect mediated by BAG3 elevation. Collectively, the current study established a tumor suppressor-like function of BAG3 via direct interaction with G6PD in HCCs at the cellular level.

Matthai SM, Ramakrishna B
Cancer stem cells in hepatocellular carcinoma--an immunohistochemical study with histopathological association.
Indian J Med Res. 2015; 142(4):391-8 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVES: Cancer stem cells (CSCs) may be responsible for tumour recurrence and resistance to chemotherapy in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). This study was carried out to evaluate the association between histological parameters and liver CSCs (LCSC) in HCC, and to compare distribution of liver CSCs in HCC associated with and without hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection.
METHODS: Seventy nine tumours (49 surgical resections from 46 patients, and 30 from autopsy) were reviewed. Immunohistochemical staining for the LCSC marker EpCAM (epithelial cell adhesion molecule), liver progenitor cell (LPC) markers CK19 (cytokeratin 19) and neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) were performed and were associated with histological features of tumour behaviour.
RESULTS: Thirty three tumours (41.8%) showed positive staining for EpCAM. CK19 and NCAM expression were seen in 26 (32.9%) and four (5.1%) tumours, respectively. The expression of EpCAM and CK19 was significantly associated with each other ( P<0.001). EpCAM expression was significantly associated with clinical and histological features indicating aggressive tumour behaviour, including younger age of onset, higher serum alpha foetoprotein (AFP) levels, tumour cell dedifferentiation, increased mitotic activity, and vascular invasiveness. There was no significant difference in expression of EpCAM, CK19 and NCAM between HBV positive and negative HCC.
INTERPRETATION & CONCLUSIONS: The LCSC marker EpCAM was expressed in less than half of HCC, was independent of HBV aetiology, and was strongly associated with clinical and histological features of aggressive tumour behaviour. Positive staining for CK19 suggests a possible LPC origin of the EpCAM positive HCCs.

Safavi S, Järnum S, Vannas C, et al.
HSP90 inhibition blocks ERBB3 and RET phosphorylation in myxoid/round cell liposarcoma and causes massive cell death in vitro and in vivo.
Oncotarget. 2016; 7(1):433-45 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Myxoid sarcoma (MLS) is one of the most common types of malignant soft tissue tumors. MLS is characterized by the FUS-DDIT3 or EWSR1-DDIT3 fusion oncogenes that encode abnormal transcription factors. The receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) encoding RET was previously identified as a putative downstream target gene to FUS-DDIT3 and here we show that cultured MLS cells expressed phosphorylated RET together with its ligand Persephin. Treatment with RET specific kinase inhibitor Vandetanib failed to reduce RET phosphorylation and inhibit cell growth, suggesting that other RTKs may phosphorylate RET. A screening pointed out EGFR and ERBB3 as the strongest expressed phosphorylated RTKs in MLS cells. We show that ERBB3 formed nuclear and cytoplasmic complexes with RET and both RTKs were previously reported to form complexes with EGFR. The formation of RTK hetero complexes could explain the observed Vandetanib resistence in MLS. EGFR and ERBB3 are clients of HSP90 that help complex formation and RTK activation. Treatment of cultured MLS cells with HSP90 inhibitor 17-DMAG, caused loss of RET and ERBB3 phosphorylation and lead to rapid cell death. Treatment of MLS xenograft carrying Nude mice resulted in massive necrosis, rupture of capillaries and hemorrhages in tumor tissues. We conclude that complex formation between RET and other RTKs may cause RTK inhibitor resistance. HSP90 inhibitors can overcome this resistance and are thus promising drugs for treatment of MLS/RCLS.

Uthaya Kumar DB, Chen CL, Liu JC, et al.
TLR4 Signaling via NANOG Cooperates With STAT3 to Activate Twist1 and Promote Formation of Tumor-Initiating Stem-Like Cells in Livers of Mice.
Gastroenterology. 2016; 150(3):707-19 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND & AIMS: Obesity and alcohol consumption contribute to steatohepatitis, which increases the risk for hepatitis C virus (HCV)-associated hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs). Mouse hepatocytes that express HCV-NS5A in liver up-regulate the expression of Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), and develop liver tumors containing tumor-initiating stem-like cells (TICs) that express NANOG. We investigated whether the TLR4 signals to NANOG to promote the development of TICs and tumorigenesis in mice placed on a Western diet high in cholesterol and saturated fat (HCFD).
METHODS: We expressed HCV-NS5A from a transgene (NS5A Tg) in Tlr4-/- (C57Bl6/10ScN), and wild-type control mice. Mice were fed a HCFD for 12 months. TICs were identified and isolated based on being CD133+, CD49f+, and CD45-. We obtained 142 paraffin-embedded sections of different stage HCCs and adjacent nontumor areas from the same patients, and performed gene expression, immunofluorescence, and immunohistochemical analyses.
RESULTS: A higher proportion of NS5A Tg mice developed liver tumors (39%) than mice that did not express HCV NS5A after the HCFD (6%); only 9% of Tlr4-/- NS5A Tg mice fed HCFD developed liver tumors. Livers from NS5A Tg mice fed the HCFD had increased levels of TLR4, NANOG, phosphorylated signal transducer and activator of transcription (pSTAT3), and TWIST1 proteins, and increases in Tlr4, Nanog, Stat3, and Twist1 messenger RNAs. In TICs from NS5A Tg mice, NANOG and pSTAT3 directly interact to activate expression of Twist1. Levels of TLR4, NANOG, pSTAT3, and TWIST were increased in HCC compared with nontumor tissues from patients.
CONCLUSIONS: HCFD and HCV-NS5A together stimulated TLR4-NANOG and the leptin receptor (OB-R)-pSTAT3 signaling pathways, resulting in liver tumorigenesis through an exaggerated mesenchymal phenotype with prominent Twist1-expressing TICs.

Kawai-Kitahata F, Asahina Y, Tanaka S, et al.
Comprehensive analyses of mutations and hepatitis B virus integration in hepatocellular carcinoma with clinicopathological features.
J Gastroenterol. 2016; 51(5):473-86 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Genetic alterations in specific genes are critical events in carcinogenesis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) progression. However, the genetic alterations responsible for HCC development, progression, and survival are unclear.
METHODS: We investigated the essential difference in genetic alterations between HCC and adjacent non-HCC tissues using next-generation sequencing technology.
RESULTS: We found recurrent mutations in several genes such as telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT; 65% of the total 104 HCCs), TP53 (38%), CTNNB1 (30%), AXIN1 (2%), PTEN (2%), and CDKN2A (2%). TERT promoter mutations were associated with older age (p = 0.005), presence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection (p = 0.003), and absence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection (p < 0.0001). In hepatitis B surface antigen (HBs Ag)-positive HCC without TERT promoter mutations, HBV integration into TERT locus was found in 47% patients and was mutually exclusive to TERT promoter mutations. Most (89%) HBV integrants were in the HBx region. TP53 mutations were associated with HBV infection (p = 0.0001) and absence of HCV infection (p = 0.002). CTNNB1 mutations were associated with absence of HBV infection (p = 0.010). Moreover, TERT promoter mutation was significantly associated with shorter disease-free survival (p = 0.005) and poor overall survival (p = 0.024).
CONCLUSIONS: Gene alterations in TERT promoter, TP53, CTNNB1, and HBV integration were closely associated with HCC development, and mutations in TERT promoter are related to poor prognosis. These results are useful for understanding the underlying mechanism of hepatocarcinogenesis, diagnosis, and predicting outcomes of patients with HCC.

Ching RH, Lau EY, Ling PM, et al.
Phosphorylation of nucleophosmin at threonine 234/237 is associated with HCC metastasis.
Oncotarget. 2015; 6(41):43483-95 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is frequently complicated by the occurrence of intrahepatic and extrahepatic metastases, leading to poor prognosis. To improve the prognosis for HCC patients, there is an urgent need to understand the molecular mechanisms of metastasis in HCC. Since protein Serine/Threonine phosphorylation emerges to be an important posttranslational modification critical in signaling process associated with cell proliferation, survival and metastasis, we employed a pair of primary tumor-derived and corresponding lung-metastatic counterparts (PLC/PRF/5-PT and PLC/PRF/5-LM) and aimed to identify these changes using CelluSpot Serine/Threonine kinase peptide array. Upon analysis, we found phosphorylated level of nucleophosmin (NPM) at Threonine 234/237 (p-NPM-Thr234/237) had remarkably high level in metastatic HCC cells (PLC-LM) than the corresponding primary HCC cell line (PLC-PT). Similar observation was observed in another match primary and their metastatic counterparts (MHCC-97L and MHCC-97H). By immunohistochemical staining, p-NPM-Thr234/237 was consistently found to be preferentially expressed in metastatic HCCs when compared with primary HCC in 28 HCC cases (p < 0.0001). By overexpressing Flag-tagged NPM and its phosphorylation site mutant (Thr234/237A) into low p-NPM-Thr234/237 expressing cells (Hep3B and Huh7) using a lentiviral based approach, we demonstrated that p-NPM-Thr234/237 is critical in invasion and migration of HCC cells, and this effect was mediated by cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (CDK1). Wild-type NPM was found to physically interact with a metastatic gene, ROCK2, and defective in Thr234/237 phosphorylation decreased its binding affinity, resulting in decrease in ROCK2 mediated signaling pathway. Identification of CDK1/p-NPM/ROCK2 signaling pathway provides a novel target for molecular therapy against HCC metastasis.

Hashimoto K, Suzuki AM, Dos Santos A, et al.
CAGE profiling of ncRNAs in hepatocellular carcinoma reveals widespread activation of retroviral LTR promoters in virus-induced tumors.
Genome Res. 2015; 25(12):1812-24 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
An increasing number of noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) have been implicated in various human diseases including cancer; however, the ncRNA transcriptome of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is largely unexplored. We used CAGE to map transcription start sites across various types of human and mouse HCCs with emphasis on ncRNAs distant from protein-coding genes. Here, we report that retroviral LTR promoters, expressed in healthy tissues such as testis and placenta but not liver, are widely activated in liver tumors. Despite HCC heterogeneity, a subset of LTR-derived ncRNAs were more than 10-fold up-regulated in the vast majority of samples. HCCs with a high LTR activity mostly had a viral etiology, were less differentiated, and showed higher risk of recurrence. ChIP-seq data show that MYC and MAX are associated with ncRNA deregulation. Globally, CAGE enabled us to build a mammalian promoter map for HCC, which uncovers a new layer of complexity in HCC genomics.

Wang B, Ma A, Zhang L, et al.
POH1 deubiquitylates and stabilizes E2F1 to promote tumour formation.
Nat Commun. 2015; 6:8704 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Hyperactivation of the transcriptional factor E2F1 occurs frequently in human cancers and contributes to malignant progression. E2F1 activity is regulated by proteolysis mediated by the ubiquitin-proteasome system. However, the deubiquitylase that controls E2F1 ubiquitylation and stability remains undefined. Here we demonstrate that the deubiquitylase POH1 stabilizes E2F1 protein through binding to and deubiquitylating E2F1. Conditional knockout of Poh1 alleles results in reduced E2F1 expression in primary mouse liver cells. The POH1-mediated regulation of E2F1 expression strengthens E2F1-downstream prosurvival signals, including upregulation of Survivin and FOXM1 protein levels, and efficiently facilitates tumour growth of liver cancer cells in nude mice. Importantly, human hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) recapitulate POH1 regulation of E2F1 expression, as nuclear abundance of POH1 is increased in HCCs and correlates with E2F1 overexpression and tumour growth. Thus, our study suggests that the hyperactivated POH1-E2F1 regulation may contribute to the development of liver cancer.

Deng L, Yang H, Tang J, et al.
Inhibition of MTA1 by ERα contributes to protection hepatocellular carcinoma from tumor proliferation and metastasis.
J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2015; 34:128 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Although expression of MTA1 inversely correlates with the nuclear localization of ERα, the effect and molecular mechanism of ERα regulation of MTA1 remain unknown.
METHODS: Quantitative real-time PCR and western blot analyses were used to measure levels of MTA1. The effect on HCC cell proliferation and invasion was assessed by EdU incorporation assays and Transwell, respectively. ShRNA and dual-luciferase assays were used to investigate the regulatory relationship between MTA1 and ERα in cell lines.
RESULTS: We found that MTA1 gene regulation by ERα may be influenced by nuclear corepressors. The MTA1 promoter has three functional ER-element half-sites that lead to decreased MTA1 transcription and expression. ERα overexpression suppressed the proliferation and invasion of hepatocellular carcinoma cells (HCC). In addition, overexpression of MTA1 attenuated ERα-mediated suppression of the proliferation and invasion of HCC cells and tumor formation in vivo. These results suggested feedback regulation between ERα and MTA1. In summary, our results demonstrated that ERα suppressed proliferation and invasion of human HCC cells through downregulation of MTA1 transcription.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study is an improved description of the mechanisms of the suppressive effect of ERα on HCCs, adding understanding to the gender disparity of HCC progression.

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