A 10-gene prognostic signature points to LIMCH1 and HLA-DQB1 as important players in aggressive cervical cancer disease
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionBritish Journal of Cancer. 2021, 124 (10), 1690-1698. 10.1038/s41416-021-01305-0
Background: Advanced cervical cancer carries a particularly poor prognosis, and few treatment options exist. Identification of effective molecular markers is vital to improve the individualisation of treatment. We investigated transcriptional data from cervical carcinomas related to patient survival and recurrence to identify potential molecular drivers for aggressive disease. Methods: Primary tumour RNA-sequencing profiles from 20 patients with recurrence and 53 patients with cured disease were compared. Protein levels and prognostic impact for selected markers were identified by immunohistochemistry in a population-based patient cohort. Results: Comparison of tumours relative to recurrence status revealed 121 differentially expressed genes. From this gene set, a 10-gene signature with high prognostic significance (p = 0.001) was identified and validated in an independent patient cohort (p = 0.004). Protein levels of two signature genes, HLA-DQB1 (n = 389) and LIMCH1 (LIM and calponin homology domain 1) (n = 410), were independent predictors of survival (hazard ratio 2.50, p = 0.007 for HLA-DQB1 and 3.19, p = 0.007 for LIMCH1) when adjusting for established prognostic markers. HLA-DQB1 protein expression associated with programmed death ligand 1 positivity (p < 0.001). In gene set enrichment analyses, HLA-DQB1high tumours associated with immune activation and response to interferon-γ (IFN-γ). Conclusions: This study revealed a 10-gene signature with high prognostic power in cervical cancer. HLA-DQB1 and LIMCH1 are potential biomarkers guiding cervical cancer treatment.