Identification of novel Nrf2 target genes as prognostic biomarkers in colitis-associated colorectal cancer in Nrf2-deficient mice.Life Sci 2019; :116968LS
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer worldwide. Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), a master regulator of many cytoprotective genes, plays a protective role in carcinogenesis. Recent studies have identified a specific gene-expression signature regulated by the Nrf2 pathway in lung adenocarcinoma and head-and-neck squamous cell cancer. However, the roles of Nrf2 in the development of colitis-associated colorectal cancer (CACC) have not been well characterized. Nrf2 target genes as prognostic biomarkers in CACC remain to be explored. Thus, this work aimed to identify the molecular changes that occur during mouse CACC progression to facilitate the development of diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers.
The CACC model was established using azoxymethane (AOM) with dextran sulfate sodium salt (DSS) in BALB/c mice for 3 weeks to induce colitis-associated adenoma (CAA, early stage) and for 9 weeks to induce colitis-associated carcinoma (CAC, late stage). Using RNA-sequencing and bioinformatics analyses we examined the mRNA expression profiles of 6 groups: wild-type control (WT-C), WT-CAA, WT-CAC, Nrf2 knockout control (Nrf2KO-C), Nrf2KO-CAA, and Nrf2KO-CAC.
In the AOM/DSS model of colitis-associated tumorigenesis, Nrf2-/- mice showed a phenotype similar to WT mice, but with significantly more tumors and a much higher percentage of adenocarcinomas. We identified 47 novel Nrf2 genes via gene expression profiling of tumor samples. Survival analysis showed that 23 of these genes were biomarkers of a poor prognosis in colon cancer patients.
Nrf2 target genes deserve exploration as prognostic and therapeutic targets for CRC.