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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Identifying the key genes and microRNAs in colorectal cancer liver metastasis by bioinformatics analysis and in vitro experiments

Tao Zhang, Jianrong Guo, Jian Gu, Zheng Wang, Guobin Wang, Huili Li, Jiliang Wang
Oncology Reports 2018 November 1
30542696
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the principal causes of cancer‑associated mortality worldwide. The high incidence of liver metastasis is the leading risk factor of mortality in patients with CRC, and the mechanisms of CRC liver metastasis are poorly understood. In the present study, 7 datasets, including 3 gene expression profile datasets and 4 microRNA (miRNA) expression profile datasets were downloaded from the NCBI Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) database to identify potential key genes and miRNAs, which may be candidate biomarkers for CRC liver metastasis. Differentially expressed (DE) genes (DEGs) and DE miRNAs of primary CRC tumor tissues and liver metastatic CRC tumor tissues were selected using the GEO2R tool. Gene Ontology and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Gene and Genome pathway enrichment analyses were conducted using the Database for Annotation, Visualization and Integrated Discovery online database. Furthermore, Cytoscape with cytoHubba and the Molecular Complex Detection (MCODE) plug‑in were used to visualize a protein‑protein interaction (PPI) network for these DEGs, and to screen hub genes and gene modules in the PPI network. In addition, the online databases, TargetScan, miRanda, PITA, miRWalk and miRDB, were used to identify the target genes of the DE miRNAs. In the present study, 141 DEGs (97 upregulated and 44 downregulated) and 3 DE miRNAs (2 upregulated and 1 downregulated) were screened from the 3 gene expression microarray datasets and 4 miRNA expression microarray datasets, respectively. In total, 10 hub genes with a high degree of connectivity were selected from the PPI network, including albumin (ALB), coagulation factor II (F2), thrombin, apolipoprotein H (APOH), serpin family C member 1 (SERPINC1), apolipoprotein A1 (APOA1), α‑1‑microglobulin/bikunin precursor (AMBP), apolipoprotein C3 (APOC3), plasminogen (PLG), α‑2 HS glycoprotein (AHSG) and apolipoprotein B (APOB). The most important module was detected in the PPI network using the MCODE plug‑in. A total of 20 DEGs were identified to be potential target genes of these DE miRNAs, and novel miRNA‑DEGs regulatory axes were constructed. In vitro experiments were performed to demonstrate that miR‑885 promoted CRC cell migration by, at least partially, decreasing the expression of von Willebrand factor (vWF) and insulin‑like growth factor binding protein 5 (IGFBP5). In conclusion, by using integrated bioinformatics analysis and in vitro experiments, key candidate genes were identified and novel miRNA‑mRNA regulatory axes in CRC liver metastasis were constructed, which may improve understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying CRC liver metastasis.

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