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Weronika Pioronska

Prrx1 functions in hepatocellular carcinoma

Paired related homeobox 1 (Prrx1) is a homeodomain transcription factor. A few studies have determined the impact of Prrx1 expression on the prognosis of several types of cancers. Their findings emphasize that Prrx1 is a relevant mediator of cancer phenotypes. Therefore, we aim to determine the role of Prrx1 in differentiation, proliferation, migration, invasion and drug resistance in HCC and how Prrx1 is regulated during cancer progression.

To solve these questions, experiments will be performed in silico (database analyses), in vitro (HCC cell lines) and in vivo (human specimen, animal models) by using molecular biology techniques.

Microarray analysis of expression profiles of HCC showed that Prrx1 expression is increased in HCC whereas in most other cancer types, expression is reduced. However, Prrx1 expression differs strongly among diverse HCC cells. Cell lines with higher differentiation grade showed highest Prrx1 expression. Furthermore, TGF-β, a strong pro-fibrotic cytokine, is expressed in HCC, and we provide evidence that Prrx1 is deregulated in liver cancer, which in part is due to TGF-β signaling.

In conclusion, our studies are important to understand the role of Prrx1 in liver cancer, whether Prrx1 is a reliable biomarker to predict the outcome of HCC or whether expression can lead to improved classification of this disease.