J Cancer 2018; 9(8):1500-1505. doi:10.7150/jca.23017

Research Paper

Shared liver-like transcriptional characteristics in liver metastases and corresponding primary colorectal tumors

Jun Cheng1*, Xuekun Song2*, Lu Ao1, Rou Chen1, Meirong Chi1, You Guo1, Jiahui Zhang1, Hongdong Li1, Wenyuan Zhao2, Zheng Guo1,2,3✉, Xianlong Wang1✉

1. Fujian Key Laboratory of Medical Bioinformatics, Key Laboratory of Ministry of Education for Gastrointestinal Cancer, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Fujian Medical University, Fuzhou, 350122, China
2. Department of Systems Biology, College of Bioinformatics Science and Technology, Harbin Medical University, Harbin, 150086, China
3. Fujian Key Laboratory of Tumor Microbiology, Fujian Medical University, Fuzhou, 350122, China
* These authors contributed equally to this work.

Abstract

Background & Aims: Primary tumors of colorectal carcinoma (CRC) with liver metastasis might gain some liver-specific characteristics to adapt the liver micro-environment. This study aims to reveal potential liver-like transcriptional characteristics associated with the liver metastasis in primary colorectal carcinoma.

Methods: Among the genes up-regulated in normal liver tissues versus normal colorectal tissues, we identified “liver-specific” genes whose expression levels ranked among the bottom 10% (“unexpressed”) of all measured genes in both normal colorectal tissues and primary colorectal tumors without metastasis. These liver-specific genes were investigated for their expressions in both the primary tumors and the corresponding liver metastases of seven primary CRC patients with liver metastasis using microdissected samples.

Results: Among the 3958 genes detected to be up-regulated in normal liver tissues versus normal colorectal tissues, we identified 12 liver-specific genes and found two of them, ANGPTL3 and CFHR5, were unexpressed in microdissected primary colorectal tumors without metastasis but expressed in both microdissected liver metastases and corresponding primary colorectal tumors (Fisher's exact test, P < 0.05). Genes co-expressed with ANGPTL3 and CFHR5 were significantly enriched in metabolism pathways characterizing liver tissues, including “starch and sucrose metabolism” and “drug metabolism-cytochrome P450”.

Conclusions: For primary CRC with liver metastasis, both the liver metastases and corresponding primary colorectal tumors may express some liver-specific genes which may help the tumor cells adapt the liver micro-environment.

Keywords: colorectal cancer, liver metastasis, microdissection, micro-environment, transcriptional characteristics

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How to cite this article:
Cheng J, Song X, Ao L, Chen R, Chi M, Guo Y, Zhang J, Li H, Zhao W, Guo Z, Wang X. Shared liver-like transcriptional characteristics in liver metastases and corresponding primary colorectal tumors. J Cancer 2018; 9(8):1500-1505. doi:10.7150/jca.23017. Available from http://www.jcancer.org/v09p1500.htm