Expression of the stem cell self-renewal gene Hiwi and risk of tumour-related death in patients with soft-tissue sarcoma

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Abstract

Self-renewal is considered as a common property of stem cells. Dysregulation of stem cell self-renewal is likely a requirement for the development of cancer. Hiwi, the human Piwi gene, encodes a protein responsible for stem cell self-renewal. In this study, we investigated the expression of Hiwi at the RNA level by real-time quantitative PCR in 65 primary soft-tissue sarcomas (STS) and ascertained its impact on prognosis for STS patients. In a multivariate Cox's proportional hazards regression model, we found that an increased expression of Hiwi mRNA is a significant negative prognostic factor for patients with STS (P = 0.017; relative risk 4.6, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.3-16.1) compared to medium expression of Hiwi transcript. However, a low expression of Hiwi transcript is correlated with a 2.4-fold (CI 0.7-8.0) increased risk, but this effect was not significant (P = 0.17). Altogether, high-level expression of Hiwi mRNA identifies STS patients at high risk of tumour-related death. This is the first report showing a correlation between expression of a gene involved in stem cell self-renewal and prognosis of cancer patients.

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