Springer Nature

Integrated proteogenomic characterization reveals an imbalanced hepatocellular carcinoma microenvironment after incomplete radiofrequency ablation

Posted on 2023-05-26 - 03:25
Abstract Background Efforts to precisely assess tumor-specific T-cell immune responses still face major challenges, and the potential molecular mechanisms mediating hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) microenvironment imbalance after incomplete radiofrequency ablation (iRFA) are unclear. This study aimed to provide further insight into the integrated transcriptomic and proteogenomic landscape and identify a new target involved in HCC progression following iRFA. Methods Peripheral blood and matched tissue samples were collected from 10 RFA-treated HCC patients. Multiplex immunostaining and flow cytometry were used to assess local and systemic immune responses. Differentially expressed genes (DEGs) and differentially expressed proteins (DEPs) were explored via transcriptomic and proteogenomic analyses. Proteinase-3 (PRTN3) was identified in these analyses. And then, the ability of PRTN3 to predict overall survival (OS) was assessed in 70 HCC patients with early recurrence after RFA. In vitro CCK-8, wound healing and transwell assays were conducted to observe interactions between Kupffer cells (KCs) and HCC cells induced by PRTN3. The protein levels of multiple oncogenic factors and signaling pathway components were detected by western blotting. A xenograft mouse model was built to observe the tumorigenic effect of PRTN3 overexpression on HCC. Results Multiplex immunostaining revealed no immediate significant change in local immune cell counts in periablational tumor tissues after 30 min of iRFA. Flow cytometry showed significantly increased levels of CD4+ T cells, CD4+CD8+ T cells, and CD4+CD25+CD127− Tregs and significantly decreased the levels of CD16+CD56+ natural killer cells on day 5 after cRFA (p < 0.05). Transcriptomics and proteomics revealed 389 DEGs and 20 DEPs. Pathway analysis showed that the DEP-DEGs were mainly enriched in the immunoinflammatory response, cancer progression and metabolic processes. Among the DEP-DEGs, PRTN3 was persistently upregulated and closely associated with the OS of patients with early recurrent HCC following RFA. PRTN3 expressed in KCs may affect the migration and invasion of heat stress-treated HCC cells. PRTN3 promotes tumor growth via multiple oncogenic factors and the PI3K/AKT and P38/ERK signaling pathways. Conclusions This study provides a comprehensive overview of the immune response and transcriptomic and proteogenomic landscapes of the HCC milieu induced by iRFA, revealing that PRTN3 promotes HCC progression after iRFA. Trial registration ChiCTR2200055606, http://www.chictr.org.cn/showproj.aspx?proj=32588 .


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Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research


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