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TRIM29 as a novel biomarker in pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

1. Introduction

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal malignancies and only 10-20% of the patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are resectable and its 5-year overall survival rate is only 5% due to its high recurrence rate despite the multimodality treatments [1, 2]. Survival of pancreatic cancer patients has remained the same since the development of Whipple's operation and gemcitabine [3]. The development of pancreatic cancer is a multistep process involving multiple signaling pathways. The past decade has witnessed intensive study and impressive progress in searching for novel biomarkers [4], but further studies are needed to find more sensitive, specific, and cost-effective biomarkers for better diagnosis and prognosis.

The tripartite motif (TRIM) family is composed of multidomain

ubiquitin E3 ligases characterized by the presence of the N-terminal tripartite motif (RING, B-boxes, and coiled coil). The TRIM family members are involved in a plethora of biological and physiological processes and, when altered, are implicated in many pathological conditions [5]. TRIM29, also known as ataxia-telangiectasia group Dassociated protein (ATDC), is a member of the TRIM family proteins [6]. Several reports have shown the role of TRIM29 in tumorigenesis examined on the basis of functional studies. It has been reported that TRIM29 is highly expressed in gastric cancer with poor histological grade, large tumor, tumor invasion, and lymph node metastasis, suggesting that TRIM29 plays a pivotal role in differentiation, proliferation, and progression of gastric cancer cells [7, 8]. Also, TRIM29 was overexpressed in bladder cancer, lung cancer, ovarian serous papillary tumors, and endometrial neoplasms [9-11]. However, the significance and prognostic value of TRIM29 expression in pancreatic cancer remain unclear. In the present study, we evaluated the TRIM29 expression pattern and its role in pancreatic cancer.

2. Materials and Methods

2.1. Patients and Specimens. Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues of 186 pancreatic cancer and 186 matched adjacent nontumor tissues from the Department of Biliary and Vascular Surgery, Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University, between January 2006 and January 2010 were subjected to immunostaining. All the patients underwent pancreatectomy and all the specimens were histologically diagnosed as pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma in this study. There were 121 male and 65 female patients, ranging from 34 to 81 years old (median, 63 years). The overall survival time was defined as the period from the date of diagnosis to the date of death or the date of last follow-up. The pathologic tumor staging was determined according to the 2009 Union Internationale Contre le Cancer/American Joint Committee for Cancer TNM staging system [12]. This study was approved by Ethics Committee of Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University, and informed consent was obtained from all patients.

2.2. Cell Lines and Culture. The human pancreatic cancer cell lines SW1990 and BxPC3 were originally obtained from the American Type Culture Collection, USA. All cells were maintained in DMEM (Life Technologies, USA) containing 10% FBS (Life Technologies) in a humidified incubator at 37[degrees]C under 5% C[O.sub.2].

2.3. Immunohistochemical Determination. All slides were examined by two pathologists blinded to clinical data. The final consensus of ambiguous cases was reached after discussion. For determination of TRIM29 protein immunoreactivity, the staining intensity and pattern were evaluated according to the following [13]. Immunoreactivity for TRIM29 was evaluated in the neoplastic epithelial cells using a combined scoring system based on the sum of the staining intensity and the percentage of positive cells. Staining intensity was classified as follows: weak (1), moderate (2), or strong (3). Positive cells were quantified as a percentage of the total number of tumor cells and assigned to 1 of the following 5 categories: less than 5% (0), 5% to 25% (1), 26% to 50% (2), 51% to 75% (3), or more than 75% (4). The percentage of tumor cell positivity and staining intensity was multiplied to generate an immunoreactivity score for each case. As a result, immunoreactivity score values ranged from 0 to 12. Cases with an immunoreactivity score of 2 or higher were considered positive for TRIM29 expression.

2.4. Western Blot Analysis. Cells were lysed in RIPA buffer (Qiagen, China) and the protein was extracted, boiled for 10 min at 100[degrees]C, and then resolved by SDS-PAGE on a 12% gel. Subsequently, the proteins were electrophoretically transferred to a nitrocellulose membrane. The membranes were blocked with anti-human TRIM29 antibody (1:2000) and anti-human GAPDH (1:2000; Santa Cruz, USA), followed by incubation with HRP-conjugated secondary antibody. The protein signals were detected by luminal detection reagent (Santa Cruz, USA).

2.5. RNA Transfection and Gene Silencing. To silence TRIM29 in tumor cells, small interfering RNA against TRIM29 (siTRIM29) was transfected into the cells. The siRNAs duplexes targeting the TRIM29 gene and the negative control targeting a nonspecific sequence (si-Scramble) were commercially synthesized by OriGene (NM_012101). The siRNA duplexes (100 nmol/L) were transfected into cells using Lipofectamine 2000 (Invitrogen, USA) according to the manufacturer's instructions. The cells were harvested 48 h after transfection for further analysis. The inhibition efficiency was identified by western blot.

2.6. Cell Proliferation Assay. The 3-(4, 5-dimethylthiazol-2yl)-2, 5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) reagent was used to assay the cell proliferation. Cells were transfected with si-Scramble or siTRIM29 for 24 h, and cell proliferation was assessed. Briefly, 4000 cells from each group (si-Scramble or siTRIM29) were plated in 96-well plates in 200 [micro]L of medium. To analyze cell proliferation, 15 [micro]L of MTT substrate at a concentration of 2.5 mg/mL in PBS was added to each well. The plates were then incubated for another 4 h. The medium was then removed, and the cells were solubilized in 200 [micro]L of dimethylsulfoxide and analyzed at 490 nm.

2.7. Cell Migration and Invasion Assays. Transwell migration assay (Millipore, USA) was used to measure cell migration and invasion capacity in vitro. The cells were transfected with si-Scramble or siTRIM29 for 48 h and suspended in DMEM with 10 g/LBSA. Then, cellsuspensions (200 [micro]L) were seeded in the upper chamber with a porous membrane coated with Matrigel (BD Bioscience, USA) for the invasion assay or without Matrigel for the migration assay. 500 [micro]L DMEM containing 10% serum was added to the bottom chamber. After 24 h for migration or 48 h for invasion, the penetrated cells on the filters were fixed in dried methanol and stained in 4 g/L crystal violet. The numbers of migrated or invasive cells were determined from five random fields using a microscope (Olympus).

2.8. Statistical Analysis. Values are presented as mean [+ or -] SD. Statistical analyses were conducted using SPSS 16.0 software. The Chi-square test was applied to examine the correlation between TRIM29 expression and clinical and pathological parameters. Statistical differences between groups were assessed by the unpaired two-tailed t-test or ANOVA test or Mann-Whitney U test when data were nonparametric. Survival curves were drawn using the Kaplan-Meier method and differences were analyzed by the log-rank test. Multivariate Cox regression analysis was used to analyze the independent prognostic factors of survival. P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

3. Results

3.1. TRIM29 Is Upregulated in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma. By immunohistochemical staining carriedout in 186 pancreatic tumors and matched adjacent nontumor pancreatictissues, we found weak cytoplasmic TRIM29 expression in nontumor pancreatic ductal cells (Figure 1(a)). In contrast, TRIM29 showed predominantly nuclear immunostaining in well, moderate, and poorly differentiated carcinomas (Figures 1(b)--1(f)). According to semiquantitative assessment, TRIM29 positivity was 58.6% (109/186) in pancreatic cancers and 8.6% (16/186) in pairednontumor pancreatic tissues, which was statistically different (P < 0.001).

3.2. TRIM29 Expression Was Associated with Poor Prognosis. We next analyzed the relationship between TRIM29 expression and clinicopathologic features as shown in Table 1. TRIM29 protein expression was correlated with lymph node metastasis (P = 0.019). There was no significant correlation between TRIM29 expression and other factors, such as age, gender, histologic differentiation, and local invasion.

The median follow-up period for overall survival was 19.2 months (range of 0.5-60 months). By univariate analysis using the log-rank test, there was a statistically significant difference in the 5-year survival between TRIM29positive and TRIM29-negative tumors (TRIM29-positive tumor: median overall survival of 16.4 months, TRIM29negative tumor: median overall survival of 32.3 months, P < 0.001, Figure 2(a)). Additionally, the patients with TRIM29positive tumors showed significantly reduced recurrence-free survival compared to patients with TRIM29-negative tumors (TRIM29-positive tumor: recurrence-free survival of 10.8 months, TRIM29-negative tumor: recurrence-free survival of 17.1 months, P = 0.008, Figure 2(b)). During this period, 156 patients experienced metastatic recurrence and died of pancreatic cancer directly and 25 died of noncancer causes, such as side effects from treatment.

Furthermore, multivariate analysis using the Cox proportional hazard model indicated that positive expression of TRIM29 was an independent prognostic factor for poor prognosis in pancreatic cancer (HR = 2.180, 95% CI: 1.3244.198, P = 0.011, Table 2).

3.3. Silencing of TRIM29 Expression Reduced Pancreatic Cancer Cell Proliferation. Western blot analysis indicated that TRIM29 siRNA knocked down TRIM29 expression (Figure 3(a)). In both SW1990 and BxPC3, siTRIM29 treatment significantly reduced pancreatic cancer cell proliferation (Figures 3(b) and 3(c)).

3.4. Silencing of TRIM29 Expression Reduced Pancreatic Cancer Cell Motility. In cell migration assay (Figure 4(a)), siTRIM29 treatment significantly reduced cell numbers translocating across the membranes by an average of more than 50% in both SW1990 cellsand BxPC3 cells, respectively, when comparedwith si-Scramble treatment after 24 h incubation. Similar trends were observed in cell invasion assay (Figure 4(b)). siTRIM29 treatment significantly reduced the invasion in SW1990 cells and BxPC3 cells by more than 50%. These results indicate that TRIM29 expression is correlated with cell proliferation, migration, and invasion in pancreatic cancer cells.

4. Discussion

In the present study, we performed a patient-based immunohistochemical study to evaluate the expression level of TRIM29 in pancreatic cancer. Our findings are consistent with previous data that expression of the TRIM29 is elevated in most invasive pancreatic cancers and pancreatic cancer precursor lesions [14]. TRIM29 promoted cancer cell proliferation in vitro and enhanced tumor growth and metastasis in vivo, which was correlated with elevated beta-catenin levels in pancreatic cancer, and beta-catenin function was required for TRIM29's oncogenic effects [14]. However, the clinical significance of TRIM29 in pancreatic cancer has not been investigated so far. Our findings have demonstrated the importance of TRIM29 as a potential tumor growth promoter in pancreatic cancers. In this study, we identified the association of elevated TRIM29 expression with human pancreatic cancer progression and its value as an independent prognostic marker of the disease. Significantly, correlations were observed between TRIM29 expression and lymph node metastasis. In the in vitro studies, TRIM29 was correlated with cancer cell proliferation and invasion and migration. All these data supported that TRIM29 could be used as a novel prognostic marker for pancreatic cancer.

In the study, we analyzed the TRIM29 expression using the immunohistochemistry study in 186 cases of primary pancreatic cancer and paired adjacent nontumor tissues. Of the 186 pairednontumor pancreatic tissues, TRIM29 positivity was only 8.6% (16/186). By contrast, the immunoreactive patterns of TRIM29 were predominantly positively identified in the majority of pancreatic cancer specimens, with 58.6% (109/186) cases showing positive staining. Moreover, patients with positive TRIM29 expression showed both shorter overall survival and shorter recurrence-free survival than those with negative TRIM29 expression. Importantly, multivariate analysis demonstrated that positive TRIM29 expression remained a significant independent prognostic factor for overall survival for pancreatic cancer.

Several lines of evidence have indicated that TRIM29 contributes to cancer progression, although it is not well illustrated. Previous reports have shown that TRIM29 promotes cancer cell proliferation via inhibition of p53 nuclear activities [15, 16]. P53 is a major tumor suppressor gene involved in the determination of proliferation or growth arrest at the cellular level. TRIM29 binds p53 and represses expression of p53-regulated genes, including p21 and NOXA [15,17]. Also, TRIM29 was the main component of a protein kinase mediated signalling transduction pathway that is triggered by ionizing radiation which may contribute to cancer progression [6]. TRIM29 is selectively expressed in basal cells of the normal prostate gland, and immunohistochemical staining with anti-TRIM29 antibody showed the same expression pattern as that with 34[beta]E12 in prostate cancer and its benign mimics, indicating that TRIM29 maybe useful for distinguishing prostate cancers from benign tissues [18]. Younger women (<55 years of age) with early-stage ER + breast cancer who were given no adjuvant systemic therapy had a significantly lower risk of relapse when their tumor had high TRIM29 expression, suggesting that loss of TRIM29 expression in normal breast luminal cells can contribute to malignant transformation and lead to progression of ER + breast cancer in premenopausal women [19]. The expression of TRIM29 was significantly associated with progression to muscle-invasive bladder cancer and multivariate Cox regression analysis identified TRIM29 as independent prognostic markers [20]. TRIM29 was reported to upregulate MMP-9 to promote lung cancer cell invasion by activating ERK and JNK pathways [21]. Previous results have identified a DNA repair pathway leading from MK2 and ATM to TRIM29, suggesting its candidacy as a therapeutic target to radiosensitize PDAC and improve the efficacy of DNA-damaging treatment in pancreatic cancer [22]. In our study, silencing of TRIM29 expression reduced cell proliferation, migration, and invasion in pancreatic cancer cell lines. These results support a role for TRIM29 in promoting progression of pancreatic cancer.

In summary, we have demonstrated that TRIM29 is overexpressed in malignant pancreatic ducts and that such expression is an independent prognostic factor in patients with pancreatic cancer. Moreover, knockdown of TRIM29 could significantly inhibit pancreatic cancer cell growth and motility in vitro. These results suggest that the TRIM29 plays a promoting role in the development of pancreatic cancer. Further studies into the mechanisms of TRIM29 in the pancreatic lesions are warranted. 10.1155/2014/317817

Conflict of Interests

The author declares that there is no conflict of interests regarding the publication of this paper.


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Hongli Sun, Xianwei Dai, and Bing Han

Department of Biliary and Vascular Surgery, Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University, Heping District, Shenyang 110004, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Xianwei Dai;

Received 19 February 2014; Revised 29 March 2014; Accepted 29 March 2014; Published 22 April 2014

Academic Editor: Stamatios Theocharis

TABLE 1: Correlation between TRIM29 expression and clinicopathologic
features in 186 patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

Characteristics                  Total   Positive     TRIM29       P

Total participants                186      109          77
Age at surgery (years)
  <60                             70        54          16       0.642
  [greater than or equal to]60    116       55          61
  Male                            121       76          45       0.302
  Female                          65        33          32
Tumor grade
  Poorly                          71        41          30
  Moderately                      80        51          29       0.569
  Well                            35        17          18
Tumor stage
  I-II                            90        58          32       0.336
  III-IV                          96        51          45
Tumor size
  [less than or equal to]20 mm    66        39          27       0.196
  >20 mm                          120       70          50
Lymph node metastasis
  Positive                        92        68          24       0.019
  Negative                        94        41          53
Vascular invasion
  Positive                        89        41          48       0.370
  Negative                        97        68          29
Perineural invasion

TABLE 2: Cox proportional hazards model analysis of prognostic factors
in 186 patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

Factor                 Univariate analysis      P
                      Hazard ratio (95% CI)

Age                    0.824 (0.349-1.021)    0.573
Gender                 0.786 (0.393-0.896)    0.442
Tumor staging          4.705 (1.978-7.936)    <0.001
Tumor size             1.241 (0.750-1.954)    0.145
Lymph node status     5.358 (2.770-10.032)    <0.001
Vascular invasion     1.293 (0.653-1.9025)    0.397
Perineural invasion    1.124 (0.690-1.805)    0.519
TRIM29 expression      2.505 (1.206-5.167)    0.009

Factor                Multivariate analysis     P
                      Hazard ratio (95% CI)

Tumor staging          4.960 (2.363-7.746)    0.004
Tumor size
Lymph node status     6.214 (3.025-12.141)    <0.001
Vascular invasion
Perineural invasion
TRIM29 expression      2.180 (1.324-4.198)    0.011
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Title Annotation:Research Article
Author:Sun, Hongli; Dai, Xianwei; Han, Bing
Publication:Disease Markers
Article Type:Report
Date:Jan 1, 2014
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