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Hepatology. 2019 Jan;69(1):359-375. doi: 10.1002/hep.30158. Epub 2018 Dec 18.

Transcriptome-Wide Analysis Reveals the Landscape of Aberrant Alternative Splicing Events in Liver Cancer.

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Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center and Institutes of Biomedical Sciences, Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.
Collaborative Innovation Center for Cancer Medicine, Department of Oncology, Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.


Alternative splicing (AS) is assumed to be a pivotal determinant for the generation of diverse transcriptional variants in cancer. However, the comprehensive dysregulation of AS and the prospective biological and clinical relevance in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remain obscure. Here, we identified and depicted the AS landscape in HCC by performing reference-based assembly of sequencing reads from over 600 RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) libraries. We detected various differentially spliced ASEs across patients covering not only protein-coding genes, but also considerable numbers of noncoding genes. Strikingly, alternative transcription initiation was found to frequently occur in HCC. These differential ASEs were highly related to "cancer hallmarks" and involved in metabolism-related pathways in particular. In addition, 243 differential ASEs were identified as risk predictors for HCC patient survival. The isoform switch of metabolism-related gene UGP2 (UDP-glucose pyrophosphorylase 2) might play an essential role in HCC. We further constructed regulatory networks between RNA-binding protein (RBP) genes and the corresponding ASEs. Further analysis demonstrated that the regulated networks were enriched in a variety of metabolism-related pathways. Conclusion: Differential ASEs are prevalent in HCC, where alternative transcription initiation was found to frequently occur. We found that genes having differential ASEs were significantly enriched in metabolism-related pathways. The expression variations, binding relations, and even mutations of RBP genes largely influenced differential ASEs in HCC.


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