Research Papers:

CTHRC1 activates pro-tumorigenic signaling pathways in hepatocellular carcinoma

Yunpeng Wang, Mijin Lee, Goungran Yu, Hua Lee, Xueji Han and Daeghon Kim _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:105238-105250. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.22164

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Yunpeng Wang1,*, Mijin Lee1,*, Goungran Yu1, Hua Lee1, Xueji Han2 and Daeghon Kim1

1Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Internal Medicine, Chonbuk National University Medical School and Hospital, Jeonju, Jeonbuk, Republic of Korea

2Department of Infectious Disease, Yanbian University Hospital, Yanji, Jilin, China

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Daeghon Kim, email: [email protected]

Keywords: CTHRC1; HCC; CREB; Snail; metastasis

Received: May 17, 2016     Accepted: September 13, 2017     Published: October 27, 2017


CTHRC1 expression is involved in invasion and metastasis in various tumors. However, the molecules involved in its signaling pathways in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remain elusive. The migration and invasion abilities of HCC cells stably expressing CTHRC1 were assessed in vitro and in vivo with a mouse model. Moreover, signaling pathways involved in invasion and metastasis were analyzed. CTHRC1 was abundantly expressed in HCC cell lines and HCC tissues. CTHRC1 was also detectable in the serum of HCC patients, compared with non-tumor controls. CTHRC1 mRNA was positively correlated with large tumor size (p <0.003), Edmondson differentiation grade (p <0.0001), microvessel invasion (p <0.05), intrahepatic metastasis (p <0.005), and HCC stage (AJCC, p <0.0001). Ectopic expression of CTHRC1 in HepG2 cells promoted cell migration and invasiveness in vitro, and promoted tumor metastasis in a lung metastasis mouse model. Knockdown of CTHRC1 by short hairpin RNA (shRNA) in HCC cells suppressed migratory and invasive abilities. Growth factor-mediated CTHRC1 expression promoted cancer cell invasiveness and metastasis through activation of CREB/Snail signaling, which induced EMT change and MMPs expression. Therefore, CTHRC1 and its downstream molecules may be potential therapeutic targets for HCC invasion and metastasis.

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