Background/Aims: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has the most rapidly rising cancer incidence in the US and Europe. The KLF6 tumor suppressor is frequently inactivated in HCC by loss-of-heterozygosity (LOH) and/or mutation. Methods: Here we have analyzed 33 HBV- and 40 HCV-related HCCs for mRNA expression of wildtype KLF6 (wtKLF6) as well as the KLF6 variant 1 (SV1), a truncated, growth-promoting variant that antagonizes wtKLF6 function. The HCV-related tumors analyzed represented the full histologic spectrum from cirrhosis and dysplasia to metastatic cancer. Results: Expression of KLF6 mRNA is decreased in 73% of HBV-associated HCCs compared to matched surrounding tissue (ST), with reductions of ∼80% in one-third of the patients. KLF6 mRNA expression is also reduced in dysplastic nodules from patients with HCV compared to cirrhotic livers (p < 0.005), with an additional, marked decrease in the very advanced, metastatic stage (p < 0.05). An increased ratio of KLF6SV1/wt KLF6 is present in a subset (6/33, 18%) of the HBV-related HCCs compared to matched ST. Reconstituting KLF6 in HepG2 cells by retroviral infection decreased proliferation and related markers including cyclin D1 and beta-catenin, increased cellular differentiation based on induction of albumin, E-cadherin, and decreased alpha fetoprotein. Conclusions: We conclude that reduced KLF6 expression is common in both HBV- and HCV-related HCCs and occurs at critical stages during cancer progression. Effects of KLF6 are attributable to regulation of genes controlling hepatocyte growth and differentiation.
- Alternative splicing
- Hepatocellular carcinoma