Tg737 acts as a key driver of invasion and migration in liver cancer stem cells and correlates with poor prognosis in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma

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Abstract

We previously demonstrated that the Tg737 gene plays a critical role in the carcinogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, few systematic investigations have focused on the biological function of Tg737 in the invasion and migration of liver cancer stem cells (LCSCs) and on its clinical significance. In this study, Tg737 overexpression was achieved via gene transfection in MHCC97-H side population (SP) cells, which are considered a model for LCSCs in scientific studies. Tg737 overexpression significantly inhibited the invasion and migration of SP cells in an extracellular signal-regulated kinase1/2 (ERK1/2)/matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2)-dependent manner. Furthermore, Tg737 expression was frequently decreased in HCC tissues relative to that in adjacent noncancerous liver tissues. This decreased expression was significantly associated with tumor differentiation, the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) stage, metastasis, tumor size, vascular invasion, alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) levels, and tumor number. Moreover, multivariate Cox regression analyses demonstrated that Tg737 expression was an independent factor for predicting the overall survival of HCC patients. Notably, Kaplan–Meier analysis further showed that overall survival was significantly worse among patients with low Tg737 expression. Collectively, our findings demonstrated that Tg737 is a poor prognostic marker in patients with HCC, which may be due to its ability to promote LCSCs invasion and migration. These results provide a basis for investigating of Tg737 as a novel prognostic biomarker and therapeutic target.

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