Research Papers:

Thioredoxin interacting protein promotes invasion in hepatocellular carcinoma

Aysim Gunes, Ezgi Bagirsakci, Evin Iscan, Gulcin Cakan-Akdogan, Umut Aykutlu, Serif Senturk, Gunes Ozhan, Esra Erdal, Deniz Nart, Funda Yilmaz Barbet and Nese Atabey _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:36849-36866. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.26402

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Aysim Gunes1, Ezgi Bagirsakci1, Evin Iscan1, Gulcin Cakan-Akdogan1, Umut Aykutlu2, Serif Senturk1, Gunes Ozhan1, Esra Erdal1, Deniz Nart2, Funda Yilmaz Barbet2 and Nese Atabey1

1Izmir Biomedicine and Genome Center, Izmir, 35340 Balcova, Turkey

2Ege University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Pathology, Izmir, 35040 Bornova, Turkey

Correspondence to:

Nese Atabey, email: [email protected]

Keywords: HCC; oxidative stress; TXNIP; EMT; metastasis

Received: January 08, 2018     Accepted: November 16, 2018     Published: December 07, 2018


Background: Considerable evidence suggests that oxidative stress plays an essential role in the progression of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). While acquired resistance to oxidative stress is the main driver of aggressive cell phenotype, the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. Here, we tested the hypothesis that elevated expression of Thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP) is a main regulator of the aggressive phenotype in HCC.

Materials and Methods: To test this hypothesis, we measured TXNIP expression levels in 11 HCC cell lines by qPCR and western blotting. In addition, 80 pairs of HCC tissues and matched liver tissues of 73 cases, as well as 11 normal liver tissue samples were examined by immunohistochemistry. Besides, TXNIP expression levels were analyzed by Oncomine Platform in seven independent microarray datasets. Finally, the functional role of TXNIP in HCC was investigated in vitro and in vivo by silencing and overexpression studies.

Results: Our results show that TXNIP expression is significantly increased in HCC compared to non-tumor counterparts (p < 0.0001) as well as to normal (p < 0.0001) and cirrhotic (p < 0.0001) liver tissues. Moreover, stable overexpression of TXNIP in HCC cells (i) significantly increases ROS levels, (ii) induces EMT phenotype, (iii) increases motility, invasion and 3D branching tubulogenesis, (iv) decreases apoptosis, and (v) elevates in vivo metastasis in zebrafish embryos. Finally, we identify sinusoidal/stromal and cytoplasmic TXNIP staining patterns as risk factors for intrahepatic vascular invasion (p:0.0400).

Conclusion: Our results strongly suggest that overexpression of TXNIP has a pivotal role in HCC progression by inducing cell survival, invasion, and metastasis.

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