SF3B4 as an early-stage diagnostic marker and driver of hepatocellular carcinoma

  • Shen, Qingyu (Department of Pathology, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea) ;
  • Nam, Suk Woo (Department of Pathology, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea)
  • Received : 2018.01.17
  • Published : 2018.02.28


An accurate diagnostic marker for detecting early-stage hepatocellular carcinoma (eHCC) is clinically important, since early detection of HCC remarkably improves patient survival. From the integrative analysis of the transcriptome and clinicopathologic data of human multi-stage HCC tissues, we were able to identify barrier-to-autointegration factor 1 (BANF1), procollagen-lysine, 2-oxoglutarate 5-dioxygenase 3 (PLOD3) and splicing factor 3b subunit 4 (SF3B4) as early HCC biomarkers which could be detected in precancerous lesions of HCC, with superior capabilities to diagnose eHCC compared to the currently popular HCC diagnostic biomarkers: GPC3, GS, and HSP70. We then showed that SF3B4 knockdown caused G1/S cell cycle arrest by recovering $p27^{kip1}$ and simultaneously suppressing cyclins, and CDKs in liver cancer cells. Notably, we demonstrated that aberrant SF3B4 overexpression altered the progress of splicing progress of the tumor suppressor gene, kruppel like factor 4 (KLF4), and resulted in non-functional skipped exon transcripts. This contributes to liver tumorigenesis via transcriptional inactivation of $p27^{kip1}$ and simultaneous activation of Slug genes. Our results suggest that SF3B4 indicates early-stage HCC in precancerous lesions, and also functions as an early-stage driver in the development of liver cancer.


Alternative splicing;Driver gene;Early-stage diagnostic marker;KLF4;SF3B4


Supported by : National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Korea