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eISSN: 1643-3750

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H Long Terminal Repeat-Associating 2 (HHLA2) is a Biomarker of Advanced Stage Hepatocellular Carcinoma and Promotes Tumor Cell Development In Vitro

Min Luo, Yao Xiong, Yan Lin, Rong Liang, Yongqiang Li, Lianying Ge

(Department of Oncology, Guangxi Medical University Cancer Hospital, Nanning, Guangxi, China (mainland))

Med Sci Monit 2021; 27:e930215

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.930215


BACKGROUND: Several risk factors contribute to the inflammation promoting hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development, but the underlying mechanisms are unknown. Human endogenous retrovirus H long terminal repeat-associating 2 (HHLA2), a B7 family member, is highly expressed in various malignant tumor tissues and is related to tumor progression and metastasis.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Bioinformatics analysis was used to analyze the gene expression chip GSE33006 of HCC tissue in the GEO database, draw a heat map of differentially expressed genes, and analyze the GO pathway of gene function annotation. Then, we compared HCC tissues with para-carcinoma liver tissues from 55 patients for expression patterns and associations with HHLA2. Effects of HHLA2 knockdown were examined in the human HCC cell line HepG2 to explore effects of HHLA2 on HepG2 cells.
RESULTS: A significantly higher expression of HHLA2 at the mRNA and protein levels was detected in HCC tissues than in para-carcinoma liver tissues, which was similar to HHLA2 expression in the GSE33006 data. A higher expression of HHLA2 protein was associated with advanced cancer stage, tumor differentiation, and invasion of adjacent structures. In vitro knockdown of HHLA2 expression significantly increased HepG2 cell adhesion, promoted cell apoptosis, induced cell cycle arrest in the G1/S phase, and inhibited cell proliferation, migration, and invasion.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data indicated there was a higher expression of HHLA2 in HCC tissues than in para-carcinoma liver tissues, and HHLA2 plays a major role in the development and progression of HCC. Owing to its higher expression, HHLA2 is a potential prognostic biomarker for HCC.

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