Objective We aimed to elucidate the mutual regulation mechanism of ubiquitin-specific protease 22 (USP22) and hypoxia inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF1 alpha), and the mechanism they promote the stemness of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells under hypoxic conditions. Design Cell counting, migration, self-renewal ability, chemoresistance and expression of stemness genes were established to detect the stemness of HCC cells. Immunoprecipitation, ubiquitination assay and chromatin immunoprecipitation assay were used to elucidate the mutual regulation mechanism of USP22 and HIF1 alpha. HCC patient samples and The Cancer Genome Atlas data were used to demonstrate the clinical significance. In vivo USP22-targeting experiment was performed in mice bearing HCC. Results USP22 promotes hypoxia-induced HCC stemness and glycolysis by deubiquitinating and stabilising HIF1 alpha. As direct target genes of HIF1 alpha, USP22 and TP53 can be transcriptionally upregulated by HIF1 alpha under hypoxic conditions. In TP53 wild-type HCC cells, HIF1 alpha induced TP53-mediated inhibition of HIF1 alpha-induced USP22 upregulation. In TP53-mutant HCC cells, USP22 and HIF1 alpha formed a positive feedback loop and promote the stemness of HCC. HCC patients with a loss-of-function mutation at TP53 and high USP22 and/or HIF1 alpha expression tend to have a worse prognosis. The USP22-targeting lipopolyplexes caused high tumour inhibition and high sorafenib sensitivity in mice bearing HCC. Conclusion USP22 promotes hypoxia-induced HCC stemness by a HIF1 alpha/USP22 positive feedback loop on TP53 inactivation. USP22 is a promising target for the HCC therapy.
Objective Autophagy participates in the progression of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and the resistance of HCC cells to sorafenib. We investigated the feasibility of sensitising HCC cells to sorafenib by modulating miR-541-initiated microRNA-autophagy axis. Design Gain- and loss-of-function assays were performed to evaluate the effects of miR-541 on the malignant properties and autophagy of human HCC cells. Autophagy was quantified by western blotting of LC3, transmission electron microscopy analyses and confocal microscopy scanning of mRFP-GFP-LC3 reporter construct. Luciferase reporter assays were conducted to confirm the targets of miR-541. HCC xenograft tumours were established to analyse the role of miR-541 in sorafenib-induced lethality. Results The expression of miR-541 was downregulated in human HCC tissues and was associated with malignant clinicopathologic phenotypes, recurrence and survival of patients with HCC. miR-541 inhibited the growth, metastasis and autophagy of HCC cells both in vitro and in vivo. Prediction software and luciferase reporter assays identified autophagy-related gene 2A (ATG2A) and Ras-related protein Rab-1B (RAB1B) as the direct targets of miR-541. Consistent with the effects of the miR-541 mimic, inhibition of ATG2A or RAB1B suppressed the malignant phenotypes and autophagy of HCC cells. Furthermore, siATG2A and siRAB1B partially reversed the enhancement of the malignant properties and autophagy in HCC cells mediated by the miR-541 inhibitor. More interestingly, higher miR-541 expression predicted a better response to sorafenib treatment, and the combination of miR-541 and sorafenib further suppressed the growth of HCC cells in vivo compared with the single treatment. Conclusions Dysregulation of miR-541-ATG2A/RAB1B axis plays a critical role in patients' responses to sorafenib treatment. Manipulation of this axis might benefit survival of patients with HCC, especially in the context of the highly pursued strategies to eliminate drug resistance.
Objective Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) is characterised by the development of hundreds to thousands of adenomas at different evolutionary stages in the colon and rectum that will inevitably progress to adenocarcinomas if left untreated. Here, we investigated the genetic alterations and transcriptomic transitions from precancerous adenoma to carcinoma. Design Whole-exome sequencing, whole-genome sequencing and single-cell RNA sequencing were performed on matched adjacent normal tissues, multiregionally sampled adenomas at different stages and carcinomas from six patients with FAP and one patient with MUTYH-associated polyposis (n=56 exomes, n=56 genomes and n=8,757 single cells). Genomic alterations (including copy number alterations and somatic mutations), clonal architectures and transcriptome dynamics during adenocarcinoma carcinogenesis were comprehensively investigated. Results Genomic evolutionary analysis showed that adjacent lesions from the same patient with FAP can originate from the same cancer-primed cell. In addition, the tricarboxylic acid cycle pathway was strongly repressed in adenomas and was then slightly alleviated in carcinomas. Cells from the 'normal' colon epithelium of patients with FAP already showed metabolic reprogramming compared with cells from the normal colon epithelium of patients with sporadic colorectal cancer. Conclusions The process described in the previously reported field cancerisation model also occurs in patients with FAP and can contribute to the formation of adjacent lesions in patients with FAP. Reprogramming of carbohydrate metabolism has already occurred at the precancerous adenoma stage. Our study provides an accurate picture of the genomic and transcriptomic landscapes during the initiation and progression of carcinogenesis, especially during the transition from adenoma to carcinoma.
Objective There is a need for early detection of colorectal cancer (CRC) at precancerous-stage adenoma. Here, we identified novel faecal bacterial markers for diagnosing adenoma. Design This study included 1012 subjects (274 CRC, 353 adenoma and 385 controls) from two independent Asian groups. Candidate markers were identified by metagenomics and validated by targeted quantitative PCR. Results Metagenomic analysis identified 'm3' from a Lachnoclostridium sp., Fusobacterium nucleatum (Fn) and Clostridium hathewayi (Ch) to be significantly enriched in adenoma. Faecal m3 and Fn were significantly increased from normal to adenoma to CRC (p<0.0001, linear trend by one-way ANOVA) in group I (n=698), which was further confirmed in group II (n=313; p<0.0001). Faecal m3 may perform better than Fn in distinguishing adenoma from controls (areas under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROCs) m3=0.675vs Fn=0.620, p=0.09), while Fn performed better in diagnosing CRC (AUROCs Fn=0.862vs m3=0.741, p<0.0001). At 78.5% specificity, m3 and Fn showed sensitivities of 48.3% and 33.8% for adenoma, and 62.1% and 77.8% for CRC, respectively. In a subgroup tested with faecal immunochemical test (FIT; n=642), m3 performed better than FIT in detecting adenoma (sensitivities for non-advanced and advanced adenomas of 44.2% and 50.8% by m3 (specificity=79.6%) vs 0% and 16.1% by FIT (specificity=98.5%)). Combining with FIT improved sensitivity of m3 for advanced adenoma to 56.8%. The combination of m3 with Fn, Ch, Bacteroides clarus and FIT performed best for diagnosing CRC (specificity=81.2%and sensitivity=93.8%). Conclusion This study identifies a novel bacterial marker m3 for the non-invasive diagnosis of colorectal adenoma.
Objective Dietary fibre has beneficial effects on energy metabolism, and the majority of studies have focused on short-chain fatty acids produced by gut microbiota. Ginseng has been reported to aid in body weight management, however, its mechanism of action is not yet clear. In this study, we focused on the potential modulating effect of ginseng on gut microbiota, aiming to identify specific strains and their metabolites, especially long-chain fatty acids (LCFA), which mediate the anti-obesity effects of ginseng. Design Db/db mice were gavaged with ginseng extract (GE) and the effects of GE on gut microbiota were evaluated using 16S rDNA-based high throughput sequencing. To confirm the candidate fatty acids, untargeted metabolomics analyses of the serum and medium samples were performed. Results We demonstrated that GE can induce Enterococcus faecalis, which can produce an unsaturated LCFA, myristoleic acid (MA). Our results indicate that E. faecalis and its metabolite MA can reduce adiposity by brown adipose tissue (BAT) activation and beige fat formation. In addition, the gene of E. faecalis encoding Acyl-CoA thioesterases (ACOTs) exhibited the biosynthetic potential to synthesise MA, as knockdown (KD) of the ACOT gene by CRISPR-dCas9 significantly reduced MA production. Furthermore, exogenous treatment with KD E. faecalis could not reproduce the beneficial effects of wild type E. faecalis, which work by augmenting the circulating MA levels. Conclusions Our results demonstrated that the gut microbiota-LCFA-BAT axis plays an important role in host metabolism, which may provide a strategic advantage for the next generation of anti-obesity drug development.
Objective N-6-methyladenosine (m(6)A) RNA methylation and its associated methyltransferase METTL3 are involved in tumour initiation and progression via the regulation of RNA function. This study explored the biological function and clinical significance of METTL3 in gastric cancer (GC). Design The prognostic value of METTL3 expression was evaluated using tissue microarray and immunohistochemical staining analyses in a human GC cohort. The biological role and mechanism of METTL3 in GC tumour growth and liver metastasis were determined in vitro and in vivo. Results The level of m(6)A RNA was significantly increased in GC, and METTL3 was the main regulator involved in the abundant m(6)A RNA modification. METTL3 expression was significantly elevated in GC tissues and associated with poor prognosis. Multivariate Cox regression analysis revealed that METTL3 expression was an independent prognostic factor and effective predictor in human patients with GC. Moreover, METTL3 overexpression promoted GC proliferation and liver metastasis in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, P300-mediated H3K27 acetylation activation in the promoter of METTL3 induced METTL3 transcription, which stimulated m(6)A modification of HDGF mRNA, and the m(6)A reader IGF2BP3 then directly recognised and bound to the m(6)A site on HDGF mRNA and enhanced HDGF mRNA stability. Secreted HDGF promoted tumour angiogenesis, while nuclear HDGF activated GLUT4 and ENO2 expression, followed by an increase in glycolysis in GC cells, which was correlated with subsequent tumour growth and liver metastasis. Conclusions Elevated METTL3 expression promotes tumour angiogenesis and glycolysis in GC, indicating that METTL3 expression is a potential prognostic biomarker and therapeutic target for human GC.
Objective To provide an understanding of the role of common genetic variations in colorectal cancer (CRC) risk, we report an updated field synopsis and comprehensive assessment of evidence to catalogue all genetic markers for CRC (CRCgene2). Design We included 869 publications after parallel literature review and extracted data for 1063 polymorphisms in 303 different genes. Meta-analyses were performed for 308 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 158 different genes with at least three independent studies available for analysis. Scottish, Canadian and Spanish data from genome-wide association studies (GWASs) were incorporated for the meta-analyses of 132 SNPs. To assess and classify the credibility of the associations, we applied the Venice criteria and Bayesian False-Discovery Probability (BFDP). Genetic associations classified as 'positive' and 'less-credible positive' were further validated in three large GWAS consortia conducted in populations of European origin. Results We initially identified 18 independent variants at 16 loci that were classified as 'positive' polymorphisms for their highly credible associations with CRC risk and 59 variants at 49 loci that were classified as 'less-credible positive' SNPs; 72.2% of the 'positive' SNPs were successfully replicated in three large GWASs and the ones that were not replicated were downgraded to 'less-credible' positive (reducing the 'positive' variants to 14 at 11 loci). For the remaining 231 variants, which were previously reported, our meta-analyses found no evidence to support their associations with CRC risk. Conclusion The CRCgene2 database provides an updated list of genetic variants related to CRC risk by using harmonised methods to assess their credibility.