J Cancer 2011; 2:271-279. doi:10.7150/jca.2.271

Research Paper

Differential Genetic Expression in Large Versus Small Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma: Results from Microarray Analysis

Gennady Bratslavsky1# ✉, Thomas Sanford 1#, Ramaprasad Srinivasan1, Olga Aprelikova2, Jack Liu 1, Martha Quezado 3, Maria Merino3, W. Marston Linehan1

1. Urologic Oncology Branch, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA
2. Cell and Cancer Biology Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA
3. Surgical Pathology Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda MD, USA
# Equal contribution


Purpose: Tumor growth and progression requires multiple steps and genetic alterations. The molecular events that occur as tumors increase in size are unknown. Patients with von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) provide a unique opportunity to study molecular alterations during tumor growth as these patients develop multiple bilateral renal tumors. To better characterize biologic events associated with tumor growth, we evaluated the alterations in gene expression in large versus small renal tumors removed from the same kidney of the same individuals.

Experimental Design: We reviewed pathology reports from patients who underwent partial nephrectomies at the National Cancer Institute for multiple tumors. We identified 11 patients who fulfilled the following inclusion criteria: 1) The patient must have had a surgical resection of more than one solid tumor from the same kidney during the same operation; 2) Among the solid tumors at least one must have been greater than 3 cm in the largest dimension and at least one less than 2 cm; 3) the nuclear Furhman grade for both larger and smaller solid tumors was identical; 4) a portion of each tumor was procured and snap frozen after surgical removal; 5) Hematoxylin and eosin staining of the frozen sample confirmed clear cell carcinoma to be present in at least 80% of the section.

Affymetrix platform and protocol for gene expression arrays were used. RNA from the frozen large and small tumor samples was extracted using Trizol-Chlorophorm method. The RNA was then reverse transcribed, labeled, fragmented, and hybridized on to an Affymetrix U133 Plus 2.0 array that contains 54,000 probe sets representing 24,568 genes. Analysis included unsupervised clustering and chromosomal analysis. The paired t-test was performed to compare gene expression levels in small and large tumors. P<0.01 was considered statistically significant.

Results: Gene expression profiles were assessed for 22 tumors (11 patients). Upon unsupervised clustering the pairs with larger tumor volume difference clustered separately from pairs with smaller volume difference. Chromosomal analysis revealed few consistent changes other than reduced expression of chromosome 3p25 among all tumors. Paired t-test showed 860 differentially expressed genes in the T1b vs T1a group, a number far greater than expected due to chance alone. When analyzed by gene function, most differences were observed in genes involved in DNA replication and in cytokine signaling.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates that as tumors increase in size there is an increasing difference in gene expression. Unsupervised clustering analysis confirms that as the volume difference increases there are a distinct set of genes that are regulated either as a response to a tumor's growth or as an early event that causes the tumor to grow. While we did not observe chromosomal instability, we did note differences in expression of individual transcripts as tumors grew larger.

Keywords: Renal cell carcinoma, tumor, size, microarray, kidney

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How to cite this article:
Bratslavsky G, Sanford T, Srinivasan R, Aprelikova O, Liu J, Quezado M, Merino M, Linehan WM. Differential Genetic Expression in Large Versus Small Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma: Results from Microarray Analysis. J Cancer 2011; 2:271-279. doi:10.7150/jca.2.271. Available from http://www.jcancer.org/v02p0271.htm