Research Papers:

An esophageal squamous cell carcinoma classification system that reveals potential targets for therapy

Teng Xiong, Mengyao Wang, Jing Zhao, Qing Liu, Chao Yang, Wen Luo, Xiangchun Li, Huanming Yang, Karsten Kristiansen, Bhaskar Roy _ and Yong Zhou

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:49851-49860. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.17989

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Teng Xiong1,2,*, Mengyao Wang1,2,*, Jing Zhao2,3,*, Qing Liu4,*, Chao Yang2, Wen Luo2, Xiangchun Li2, Huanming Yang2,5, Karsten Kristiansen2,3, Bhaskar Roy2 and Yong Zhou2

1BGI Education Center, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenzhen, China

2BGI-Shenzhen, Shenzhen, China

3Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

4College of Forensic Science, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Key Laboratory of Ministry of Public Health for Forensic Science, Xi’an, China

5James D. Watson Institute of Genome Sciences, Hangzhou, China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Bhaskar Roy, email: [email protected]

Yong Zhou, email: [email protected]

Keywords: esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), tumor microenvironment, gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA), RNA expression

Received: December 21, 2016     Accepted: May 05, 2017     Published: May 18, 2017


ESCC (Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma) is a heterogeneous cancer with diverse prognosis. Here, to explore the biological diversity of ESCC, we employed gene expression profiles from 360 ESCC tumors from East Asians to establish a comprehensive molecular classification and characterization of ESCC. Using the specific 185-gene signature generated by unsupervised consensus clustering of gene expression data, we defined four subtypes associated with distinct clinical metrics: tumors with high metastasis associated with EMT (epithelial to mesenchymal transition) and active MAP4K4/JNK signaling pathway; tumors with high chromosomal instability with up regulated MYC targes; well differentiated tumors with less aggressive and moderated tumors. The clinical relevance of these subtypes was stated by significant differences in prognosis. Importantly, 24% of all ESCCs (n = 360) were classified into the high metastasis subtype associated with poorly differentiation and unfavorable prognosis. We provided evidence that this subtype relates to tumor microenvironment. Collectively, these results might contribute to more precise personalized therapeutic strategies for each subtype of ESCC patients in the near future.

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