Genes involved in viral carcinogenesis and tumor initiation in hepatitis C virus-induced hepatocellular carcinoma.
ABSTRACT: The role of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the pathogenesis of HCV-associated hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains controversial. To understand the transition from benign to malignant, we studied the gene expression patterns in liver tissues at different stages, including normal, cirrhosis, and different HCC stages. We studied 108 liver tissue samples obtained from 88 distinct patients (41 HCV-cirrhotic tissues, 17 HCV-cirrhotic tissues from patients with HCC, and 47 HCV-HCC tissues). Differentially expressed genes (DEG) were studied by use of high-density oligonucleotide arrays. Among probe sets identified as differentially expressed via the F test, all pairwise comparisons were performed. Cirrhotic tissues with and without concomitant HCC were further evaluated, and a classifier was used to predict whether the tissue type was associated with HCC. Differential expression profiles were analyzed using Interaction Networks and Functional Analysis. Characteristic gene signatures were identified when normal tissue was compared with cirrhosis, cirrhosis with early HCC, and normal with HCC. Pathway analysis classified the cellular and biological functions of the DEG as related to cellular growth and proliferation, cell death and inflammatory disease in cirrhosis; cell death, cell cycle, DNA replication, and immune response in early HCCs; and cell death, cell growth and proliferation, cell cycle, and DNA repair in advanced HCCs. Characteristic gene signatures were identified at different stages of HCV-HCC progression. A set of genes were identified to predict whether the cirrhotic tissue was associated with HCC.
Project description:Cancer stem cells (CSCs) play a critical role in tumor development, progression, metastasis and recurrence.To evaluate hepatic expression of CD44 and CD133 in Egyptian patients with HCV-induced chronic liver diseases and hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs), and to assess its correlation with inflammatory activity scores, stages of fibrosis (in chronic hepatitis with or without cirrhosis) and grades of HCC.This prospective case-control study was conducted on eighty subjects who attended the Tropical Diseases Department, Al-Azhar University Hospital, and in collaboration with Theodor Bilharz Research Institute (2014-2016). They were divided as follows: A) Control healthy group: Ten individuals with serologically negative HCV-Ab and HBsAg, and histopathologically normal liver, B) Seventy patients subdivided into 3 groups; Twenty subjects each, as: HCV-Ab+ non-cirrhotic, HCV-Ab+ cirrhotic and HCC. Necroinflammatory activity and fibrosis in non-neoplastic liver biopsies were scored according to the METAVIR scoring system. CD44 and CD133 immunostaining was evaluated in all groups semi-quantitatively using H score. Statistical analysis was performed by SPSS version 22, using independent-samples t-test.Our study showed a significant increase of mean CD44 & CD133 expression values with disease progression among the groups (p<0.05). Their expressions increased significantly with the inflammatory activity scores and stages of fibrosis, reaching the highest values in A3F4 score compared to A1F1 (p<0.05). Moreover, there was a significant increase of their expressions across HCC grades (p<0.05), however with no significant correlation with focal lesions size.CSCs clusters exhibiting CD133+ and/or CD44+ profiles were identified in chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis and HCC. CD133 and CD44 expressions significantly corresponded to the increased inflammatory activity, fibrosis stages and higher tumor grades. Therefore, evaluation of CD44 and CD133 expression profiles as CSCs markers in non-neoplastic liver and HCCs can help in development of novel therapeutic agents for HCC targeting and prevention.
Project description:microRNAs (miRs) are 18-25 nucleotide non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression in several physiological and pathological conditions. To gather more knowledge on microRNAs in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) we generated a small RNA library in the human HCC cell line HA22T/VGH by cloning and sequencing the cDNA obtained following the size selection of 18-24 nucleotide RNAs. We determined the expression levels of the most frequently cloned microRNAs by qPCR in HCC tissues and in their peritumoral counterparts from biopsy specimens of 41 HCC patients. The most frequently cloned miRs were miR-24, miR-27a and miR-21, and their expression levels in human HCC tissues indicate that these miRs were dysregulated in HCC. We showed that miR-24 and miR-27a were significantly downregulated in HCCs from cirrhotic liver tissues in comparison to those from non-cirrhotic liver tissues. In cirrhotic HCCs the downregulation of miR-24 was correlated with poorer prognosis in patients with HBV and HCV virus infections. miR-21 was generally upregulated in HCC tissues versus the corresponding peritumoral tissues, particularly in non-cirrhotic HCC. Furthermore, by sequence alignment we identified the human miR orthologue of Mus musculus miR-1199 not yet annotated. Our results outline the differential expression of miRs in cirrhotic and non-cirrhotic HCCs, thereby contributing to advances in the discovery and validation of novel molecular biomarkers of HCC progression.
Project description:Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has the most rapidly rising cancer incidence in the US and Europe. The KLF6 tumor suppressor is frequently inactivated in HCC by loss-of-heterozygosity (LOH) and/or mutation.Here we have analyzed 33 HBV- and 40 HCV-related HCCs for mRNA expression of wildtype KLF6 (wtKLF6) as well as the KLF6 variant 1 (SV1), a truncated, growth-promoting variant that antagonizes wtKLF6 function. The HCV-related tumors analyzed represented the full histologic spectrum from cirrhosis and dysplasia to metastatic cancer.Expression of KLF6 mRNA is decreased in 73% of HBV-associated HCCs compared to matched surrounding tissue (ST), with reductions of approximately 80% in one-third of the patients. KLF6 mRNA expression is also reduced in dysplastic nodules from patients with HCV compared to cirrhotic livers (p<0.005), with an additional, marked decrease in the very advanced, metastatic stage (p<0.05). An increased ratio of KLF6SV1/wt KLF6 is present in a subset (6/33, 18%) of the HBV-related HCCs compared to matched ST. Reconstituting KLF6 in HepG2 cells by retroviral infection decreased proliferation and related markers including cyclin D1 and beta-catenin, increased cellular differentiation based on induction of albumin, E-cadherin, and decreased alpha fetoprotein.We conclude that reduced KLF6 expression is common in both HBV- and HCV-related HCCs and occurs at critical stages during cancer progression. Effects of KLF6 are attributable to regulation of genes controlling hepatocyte growth and differentiation.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>HMGA1 is a non-histone nuclear protein that regulates cellular proliferation, invasion and apoptosis and is overexpressed in many carcinomas. In this study we sought to explore the expression of HMGA1 in HCCs and cirrhotic tissues, and its effect in in vitro models.<h4>Methods</h4>We evaluated HMGA1 expression using gene expression microarrays (59 HCCs, of which 37 were matched with their corresponding cirrhotic tissue and 5 normal liver donors) and tissue microarray (192 HCCs, 108 cirrhotic tissues and 79 normal liver samples). HMGA1 expression was correlated with clinicopathologic features and patient outcome. Four liver cancer cell lines with stable induced or knockdown expression of HMGA1 were characterized using in vitro assays, including proliferation, migration and anchorage-independent growth.<h4>Results</h4>HMGA1 expression increased monotonically from normal liver tissues to cirrhotic tissue to HCC (P<.01) and was associated with Edmondson grade (P<.01). Overall, 51% and 42% of HCCs and cirrhotic tissues expressed HMGA1, respectively. Patients with HMGA1-positive HCCs had earlier disease progression and worse overall survival. Forced expression of HMGA1 in liver cancer models resulted in increased cell growth and migration, and vice versa. Soft agar assay showed that forced expression of HMGA1 led to increased foci formation, suggesting an oncogenic role of HMGA1 in hepatocarcinogenesis.<h4>Conclusions</h4>HMGA1 is frequently expressed in cirrhotic tissues and HCCs and its expression is associated with high Edmondson grade and worse prognosis in HCC. Our results suggest that HMGA1 may act as oncogenic driver of progression, implicating it in tumor growth and migration potential in liver carcinogenesis.
Project description:Global DNA hypomethylation is a characteristic feature of cancer cells that closely associates with chromosomal instability (CIN). However, the association between these characteristics during hepatocarcinogenesis remains unclear. Herein, we determined the relationship between hypomethylation and CIN in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) by analyzing 179 HCCs, 178 matched non-tumor livers and 23 normal liver tissues. Hypomethylation at three different repetitive DNA (rDNA) sequences and hypermethylation of 12 CpG loci, including 11 tumor suppressor gene (TSG) promoters, were quantified using MethyLight or combined bisulfite restriction analysis. Fractional allelic loss (FAL) was used as a marker for CIN, calculated by analyzing 400 microsatellite markers. Gains and losses at each chromosome were also determined using semi-quantitative microsatellite analysis. The associations between rDNA hypomethylation and FAL, as well as between TSG hypermethylation and FAL were investigated. Significantly more hypomethylation was observed in HCC tissues than in normal liver samples. Progression of hypomethylation during carcinogenesis was more prominent in hepatitis C virus (HCV)-negative cases, which was in contrast to our previous reports of significantly increased TSG methylation levels in HCV-positive tumors. Absence of liver cirrhosis and higher FAL scores were identified as independent contributors to significant hypomethylation of rDNA in HCC. Among the chromosomal alterations frequently observed in HCC, loss of 8p, which was unique in the earliest stages of hepatocarcinogenesis, was significantly associated with hypomethylation of rDNA by multivariable analysis (p=0.0153). rDNA hypomethylation was also associated with a high FAL score regardless of tumor differentiation (p=0.0011, well-differentiated; p=0.0089, moderately/poorly-differentiated HCCs). We conclude that DNA hypomethylation is an important cause of CIN in the earliest step of HCC, especially in a background of non-cirrhotic liver.
Project description:Progression from chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) results in protein changes in the peripheral blood. We evaluated global protein expression in plasma samples of HCV-cirrhotic and HCV-cirrhotic-HCC patients.Plasma samples from 25 HCV-cirrhotic-HCC and 10 HCV-cirrhotic patients were quantitatively evaluated for protein expression. Tryptic peptides were analyzed using Thermo linear ion-trap mass spectrometer (LTQ) coupled with a Surveyor HPLC system (Thermo). SEQUEST and X!Tandem database search algorithms were used for peptide sequence identification. Protein relative quantification was performed using the area under the curve from the select ion chromatogram. A significant fold change between groups was based on controlling the false discovery rate (FDR) at less than 5%.We identified and quantified 2320 proteins from the analysis of the different protein pattern between HCV-cirrhosis and HCV-HCC samples. Gene ontology terms classified the more important biologic process related to these proteins as signal transduction, regulation of transcription DNA-dependent, protein amino acid phosphorylation, cell adhesion, transport, and immune response. Seven proteins showed significant expression changes with a FDR less than 5% between cirrhosis and tumor groups. Moreover, 18 proteins showed significant expression changes (FDR <5%) when plasma samples from HCV-cirrhosis were compared with early HCV-HCC.Differential protein expression was observed between samples from HCV patients with cirrhosis with and without HCC. Also, differences were observed between early and advanced HCV-HCC samples. This study provides important information for discovery of potential biomarkers for early HCC diagnosis in HCV cirrhotic patients.
Project description:Hedgehog (Hh) pathway activation promotes many processes that occur during fibrogenic liver repair. Whether the Hh pathway modulates the outcomes of virally mediated liver injury has never been examined. Gene-profiling studies of human hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) demonstrate Hh pathway activation in HCCs related to chronic infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV). Because most HCCs develop in cirrhotic livers, we hypothesized that Hh pathway activation occurs during fibrogenic repair of liver damage due to chronic viral hepatitis, and that Hh-responsive cells mediate disease progression and hepatocarciongenesis in chronic viral hepatitis. Immunohistochemistry and qRT-PCR analysis were used to analyze Hh pathway activation and identify Hh-responsive cell types in liver biopsies from 45 patients with chronic HBV or HCV. Hh signaling was then manipulated in cultured liver cells to directly assess the impact of Hh activity in relevant cell types. We found increased hepatic expression of Hh ligands in all patients with chronic viral hepatitis, and demonstrated that infection with HCV stimulated cultured hepatocytes to produce Hh ligands. The major cell populations that expanded during cirrhosis and HCC (ie, liver myofibroblasts, activated endothelial cells, and progenitors expressing markers of tumor stem/initiating cells) were Hh responsive, and higher levels of Hh pathway activity associated with cirrhosis and HCC. Inhibiting pathway activity in Hh-responsive target cells reduced fibrogenesis, angiogenesis, and growth. In conclusion, HBV/HCV infection increases hepatocyte production of Hh ligands and expands the types of Hh-responsive cells that promote liver fibrosis and cancer.
Project description:Macroautophagy and chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) represent two major lysosomal degradation processes and often compensate for one another to facilitate cell survival. The aim of this study was to determine whether these autophagy pathways could compensate for one another to promote HCC cell survival in the cirrhotic liver. Analysis of normal liver tissue showed no expression of glypican-3 or p62 proteins, suggesting that macroautophagy is the major contributor to autophagic flux under non-pathological conditions. Of 46 cirrhotic livers with HCC examined, 39 (84%) of HCCs showed increased expression of p62, and 36 (78%) showed increased expression of glypican-3, while adjacent non-tumorous hepatocytes were negative for expression of p62 and glypican-3, similar to normal liver tissue. These results suggest that macroautophagy flux is impaired in HCC. Furthermore, more than 95% of HCCs showed altered expression of LAMP-2A compared to the surrounding non-tumorous cirrhotic liver, consistent with induction of CMA in HCC. Elevated expression of glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78) and heat shock cognate protein (Hsc70) were detected in 100% of HCC and adjacent non-tumorous cirrhotic livers, suggesting that unresolved ER-stress is associated with HCC risk in liver cirrhosis. Interestingly, inhibition of lysosomal degradation using hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) induced expression of the tumor suppressor p53, promoted apoptosis, and inhibited HCC growth, whereas activation of autophagy using an mTOR inhibitor (Torin1) promoted HCC growth. Results of this study suggest that induction of CMA compensates for the impairment of macroautophagy to promote HCC survival in the cirrhotic liver.
Project description:Recurrent somatic mutations in the promoter region of telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) gene and in the exon 3 of CTNNB1 gene have been recognized as common events in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with variable frequencies depending on etiology and geographical region. We have analyzed TERT promoter and CTNNB1 gene mutations in 122 cases of hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV) related HCCs, in 7 cases of cholangiocarcinoma (CC) and hepatocholangiocarcinoma (HCC-CC) as well as in autologous cirrhotic tissues. Overall, 50.4% and 26% of HCC as well as 14.3% and none of CC and HCC-CC were mutated in TERT promoter and in CTNNB1 exon 3, respectively. TERT and CTNNB1 mutations were found more frequently in HCV related (53.6% and 26.4%, respectively) than HBV related (41.7% and 16.7%, respectively) HCCs and coexisted in 57.6% of CTNNB1 mutated tumors. Mutations in TERT and CTNNB1 were not associated with the functional promoter polymorphism rs2853669. No mutations were detected in the 129 non-HCC cirrhotic tissues. In conclusion, mutations in TERT promoter and in CTNNB1 gene represent specific cancer signatures in the pathogenesis of viral related HCC and could be promising early biomarkers as well as targets for tailored therapies.
Project description:The most common causes of chronic liver disease are excess alcohol intake, viral hepatitis and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, with the clinical spectrum ranging in severity from hepatic inflammation to cirrhosis, liver failure or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The genome of HCC exhibits diverse mutational signatures, resulting in recurrent mutations across more than 30 cancer genes<sup>1-7</sup>. Stem cells from normal livers have a low mutational burden and limited diversity of signatures<sup>8</sup>, which suggests that the complexity of HCC arises during the progression to chronic liver disease and subsequent malignant transformation. Here, by sequencing whole genomes of 482 microdissections of 100-500 hepatocytes from 5 normal and 9 cirrhotic livers, we show that cirrhotic liver has a higher mutational burden than normal liver. Although rare in normal hepatocytes, structural variants, including chromothripsis, were prominent in cirrhosis. Driver mutations, such as point mutations and structural variants, affected 1-5% of clones. Clonal expansions of millimetres in diameter occurred in cirrhosis, with clones sequestered by the bands of fibrosis that surround regenerative nodules. Some mutational signatures were universal and equally active in both non-malignant hepatocytes and HCCs; some were substantially more active in HCCs than chronic liver disease; and others-arising from exogenous exposures-were present in a subset of patients. The activity of exogenous signatures between adjacent cirrhotic nodules varied by up to tenfold within each patient, as a result of clone-specific and microenvironmental forces. Synchronous HCCs exhibited the same mutational signatures as background cirrhotic liver, but with higher burden. Somatic mutations chronicle the exposures, toxicity, regeneration and clonal structure of liver tissue as it progresses from health to disease.