Send to

Choose Destination
Int J Cancer. 2014 Oct 1;135(7):1564-73. doi: 10.1002/ijc.28794. Epub 2014 Mar 4.

Transcriptomic analysis of a transgenic zebrafish hepatocellular carcinoma model reveals a prominent role of immune responses in tumour progression and regression.

Author information

Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, Singapore; Human genetics 2, Genome Institute of Singapore, Singapore.


Using our previously established xmrk transgenic zebrafish, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) was generated by induced expression of xmrk, which encoded a hyperactive epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) homolog, and regressed by suppression of xmrk expression. To investigate molecular changes in liver tumour progression and regression, RNA-Seq was performed for induced HCC and early and late stages of liver tissues during tumour regression. We found that Xmrk-induced zebrafish HCC shared strong molecular characteristics with a human HCC subtype (S2), which shows activated Myc signalling, upregulated phosphor-S6 and epithelial cell adhesion molecule. In the HCC stage, there were enhanced proteasome, antigen processing and presentation, aminosugars metabolisms, p53 and cell cycle pathways. During tumour regression, the transcriptomic profile showed a reversed trend of molecular changes compared with human HCC progression. Interestingly, distinct immune responses in tumour progression and regression were observed, including increased major histocompatibility complex class I (MHCI) at the HCC stage, enriched immune cell trafficking signals and inflammation in early regression and enhanced MHCII in late regression. Both neutrophils and macrophages were enriched during tumour progression and regression; however, the distribution of neutrophils and macrophages in HCC was relatively uniform, whereas both types of immune cells were regionally clustered during tumour regression, especially with dominant blood vessel association of macrophage in late regression, suggesting differential functions of these immune cells in tumour progression and regression. As tumour regression in our model resembles the targeted inhibition of EGFR in cancer therapy, our observations may provide molecular insights into the targeted inhibition and highlight the importance of immune response in tumour regression.


RNA-Seq; epidermal growth factor receptor; hepatocellular carcinoma; immune response; tumour regression

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center