Galectin-1 has potential prognostic significance and is implicated in clear cell renal cell carcinoma progression through the HIF/mTOR signaling axis

N M A White, O Masui, D Newsted, A Scorilas, A D Romaschin, G A Bjarnason, K W M Siu, G M Yousef
British Journal of Cancer 2014 March 4, 110 (5): 1250-9

BACKGROUND: Metastatic clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) patients have <9% 5-year survival rate, do not respond well to targeted therapy and eventually develop resistance. A better understanding of molecular pathways of RCC metastasis is the basis for the discovery of novel prognostic markers and targeted therapies.

METHODS: We investigated the biological impact of galectin-1 (Gal-1) in RCC cell lines by migration and invasion assays. Effect of Gal-1 expression on the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway was assessed by proteome array.

RESULTS: Increased expression of Gal-1 increased cell migration while knocking down Gal-1 expression by siRNA resulted in reduced cellular migration (P<0.001) and invasion (P<0.05). Gal-1 overexpression increased phosphorylation of Akt, mTOR and p70 kinase. Upon hypoxia and increased HIF-1α, Gal-1 increased in a dose-dependent manner. We also found miR-22 overexpression resulted in decreased Gal-1 and HIF-1α. Immunohistochemistry analysis showed that high Gal-1 protein expression was associated with larger size tumor (P=0.034), grades III/IV tumors (P<0.001) and shorter disease-free survival (P=0.0013). Using the Cancer Genome Atlas data set, we found that high Gal-1 mRNA expression was associated with shorter overall survival (41 vs 78 months; P<0.01).

CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest Gal-1 mediates migration and invasion through the HIF-1α-mTOR signaling axis and is a potential prognostic marker and therapeutic target.

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