JOURNAL ARTICLE

Identification of key genes and pathways in hepatocellular carcinoma: A preliminary bioinformatics analysis

Min Wu, Zhaobo Liu, Aiying Zhang, Ning Li
Medicine (Baltimore) 2019, 98 (5): e14287
30702595

BACKGROUND: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most prevalent cancers worldwide. However, the precise mechanisms of the development and progression of HCC remain unclear. The present study attempted to identify and functionally analyze the differentially expressed genes between HCC and cirrhotic tissues by using comprehensive bioinformatics analyses.

METHODS: The GSE63898 gene expression profile was downloaded from the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) and analyzed using the online tool GEO2R to identify differentially expressed genes (DEGs). Gene ontology (GO) functional analysis and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway enrichment analysis of the DEGs were performed in DAVID. The STRING database was used to evaluate the interactions of DEGs and to construct a protein-protein interaction (PPI) network using Cytoscape software. Hub genes were selected using the cytoHubba plugin and were validated with the cBioPortal database.

RESULTS: A total of 301 DEGs were identified between HCC and cirrhotic tissues. The GO analysis results showed that these DEGs were significantly enriched in certain biological processes including negative regulation of growth and cell chemotaxis. Several significant pathways, including the p53 signaling pathway, were identified as being closely associated with these DEGs. The top 12 hub genes were screened and included TTK, NCAPG, TOP2A, CCNB1, CDK1, PRC1, RRM2, UBE2C, ZWINT, CDKN3, AURKA, and RACGAP1. The cBioPortal analysis found that alterations in hub genes could result in significantly reduced disease-free survival in HCC.

CONCLUSION: The present study identified a series of key genes and pathways that may be involved in the tumorigenicity and progression of HCC, providing a new understanding of the underlying molecular mechanisms of carcinogenesis in HCC.

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