1. State Key Laboratory of Molecular Oncology, Department of Etiology and Carcinogenesis, National Cancer Center/Cancer Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, 100021, China;
2. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Beijing Shijitan Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, 100038, China;
3. College of Bioinformatics Science and Technology, Harbin Medical University, Harbin, 150081, China.
Despite many striking connections, the biological similarities between embryonic development and tumorigenesis have not been well explored. Development of the placental villi is a crucial process involving many cellular activities, including immunity, proliferation, and cell adhesion. In this study, we designed a strategy to identify the gene expression pattern of villi development and to explore the corresponding features in tumors. We discovered villi-specific genes that are highly expressed in the villus as opposed to the mature placenta and then measured the expression levels of these genes in tumors. We found large changes in the expression of villi-specific genes in multiple types of cancer. These villi-specific genes showed distinct expression patterns and were primarily involved in three biological processes: immune-related (5), proliferation-related (6), and focal adhesion-related (8); these genes were extracted from the corresponding enriched Gene Ontology (GO) terms. We observed that these genes were also dysregulated at the transcriptional level across several tumor types. Moreover, the expression of these three gene groups was associated with poor prognosis in a subset of tumors. Based on villi-specific gene expression, this correlation study indicated the existence of common gene expression patterns between embryonic development and tumorigenesis. Therefore, a systematic analysis of villi-specific gene aberrations in various tumors could serve as an indicator for identifying novel prognostic biomarkers.
Keywords: Development, Human cancer, Prognosis, Villi.