Molecular Deregulation of EPAS1 in the Pathogenesis of Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma

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Islam, F
Gopalan, V
Law, S
Lam, AK
Pillai, S
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Endothelial PAS domain-containing protein 1 (EPAS1) is an angiogenic factor and its implications have been reported in many cancers but not in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). Herein, we aim to examine the genetic and molecular alterations, clinical implications, and functional roles of EPAS1 in ESCC. High-resolution melt-curve analysis and Sanger sequencing were used to detect mutations in EPAS1 sequence. EPAS1 DNA number changes and mRNA expressions were analyzed by polymerase chain reaction. in vitro functional assays were used to study the impact of EPAS1 on cellular behaviors. Overall, 7.5% (n = 6/80) of patients with ESCC had mutations in EPAS1, and eight novel variants (c.1084C>T, c.1099C>A, c.1145_1145delT, c.1093C>G, c.1121T>G, c.1137_1137delG, c.1135_1136insT, and c.1091_1092insT) were detected. Among these mutations, four were frameshift (V382Gfs12, A381Lfs13, K379Ifs6, and K364Nfs12) mutations and showed the potential of non–sense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) in computational analysis. The majority of patients showed molecular deregulation of EPAS1 [45% (n = 36/80) DNA amplification, 42.5% (n = 34/80) DNA deletion, as well as 53.7% (n = 43/80) high mRNA expression, 20% (n = 16/80) low mRNA expression]. These alterations of EPAS1 were associated with tumor location and T stages. Patients with stage III ESCC having EPAS1 DNA amplification had poorer survival rates in comparison to EPAS1 DNA deletion (p = 0.04). In addition, suppression of EPAS1 in ESCC cells showed reduced proliferation, wound healing, migration, and invasion in comparison to that of control cells. Thus, the molecular and functional studies implied that EPAS1 plays crucial roles in the pathogenesis of ESCC and has the potential to be used as a prognostic marker and as a therapeutic target.

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Frontiers in Oncology

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© 2020 Islam, Gopalan, Law, Lam and Pillai. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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Clinical sciences

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Islam, F; Gopalan, V; Law, S; Lam, AK; Pillai, S, Molecular Deregulation of EPAS1 in the Pathogenesis of Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma, Frontiers in Oncology, 2020, 10, pp. 1534