AbstractsBiology & Animal Science

Identification and characterization of novel genetic alterations in the progression of hepatocellular carcinoma

by Ming Liu

Institution: University of Hong Kong
Degree: PhD
Year: 2013
Keywords: Liver - Cancer - Genetic aspects; Liver - Cancer - Pathogenesis
Record ID: 1160318
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10722/196441


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most frequent human malignancies worldwide with very poor prognosis. It is generally believed that accumulation of irreversible alterations in critical oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes during the long-term inflammation finally leads to the hepatocellular pathogenesis. Although under intensive investigation, the molecular pathogenesis of HCC still remains to be further elucidated. In this study, we aimed to identify novel genetic alterations critical to the pathogenesis of HCC, especially in hot regions with recurrent chromosomal instability. Amplification of broad regions of 8q is one of the most frequent genetic alterations in HCC, suggesting the existence of oncogenes in addition to MYC at 8q24. By screening the publicly available microarray database and clinical samples, we found frequent amplification and overexpression of Serum and Glucocorticoid Kinase 3 (SGK3) in clinical HCC specimens, and SGK3 genomic activation was significantly associated with poor outcome of HCC patients. Functional assays revealed that SGK3 could increase G1/S cell cycle progression, cell survival, clonogenicity, anchorage-independent growth, and tumor formation in nude mice. We provided evidences that SGK3 could promote HCC growth and survival through inactivating GSK3-β and BAD respectively. We also found that expression of SGK3, which like AKT is activated by PI3K/PDK1, has more significance than overexpression of AKT in predicting poor outcome of HCC patients. Our findings suggested the existence of an AKT-independent SGK3 pathway, which may function in parallel with AKT pathway in the pathogenesis of HCC. In addition to large chromosomal alterations, small changes in nucleotides may also make substantial contributions to carcinogenesis. Recent advances in high-throughput deep sequencing technology have provided a powerful tool to understand the whole cancer transcriptome and identify novel genetic alterations related to cancer progression. In this study, we identified a high proportion of allele imbalance in genes related to cellular stress response by sequencing the whole transcriptome of 3 paired HCC tissues. A novel nucleotide variation which resulted in a R438H amino acid change was identified in the coding region of the gene Oxidative Stress Induced Growth Inhibitor 1 (OSGIN1), and the variant 438H form of OSGIN1 was found to be specifically retained in the tumor tissues in a cohort of HCC patients. OSGIN1 was found to be closely associated with chemotherapeutic reagents and exhibited strong tumor suppressive function in HCC by directly inducing cell apoptosis. The wild type OSGIN1 was found to have stronger tumor suppressive function than the variant allele, and this might be due to their different ability to localize to mitochondria. The significantly decreased basal apoptotic index in HCC patients carrying OSGIN1 variant allele and their poor prognosis further suggested that the specific retention of 438H OSGIN1 might be important in HCC progression. In summary, we found a…