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Researchers from Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center have identified a novel prognostic biomarker for nasopharyngeal carcinoma

Last updated :2020-04-10

Source: Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center
Written by: Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center
Edited by: Tan Rongyu, Wang Dongmei

Recently, Prof. Jin-Xin Bei’s group from Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center (SYSUCC) have finished the first large-scale investigation on associations between genetic variants and prognosis for nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), involving multiple cohorts and up to 5,553 patients from Southern China and Singapore. This study identified a novel germline polymorphism at gene RPA1 significantly associated with survival outcomes in patients with NPC, and demonstrated the potential roles of RPA1 as prognostic predictor and radiosensitizer for NPC both in vitro and in vivo.

This original work was published in Advanced Science as an online version on March 20th, entitled “Germline Polymorphisms and Length of Survival of Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma: An Exome-Wide Association Study in Multiple Cohorts”. Dr. Yun-Miao Guo from SYSUCC, Dr. Melvin Chua from National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), and Dr. Yanni Zeng from Zhongshan School of Medicine contributed equally to this work, as well as two Ph.D. candidates, Jie-Rong Chen and Yan-Chun Feng from SYSUCC. Prof. Jin-Xin Bei, Prof. Yi-Xin Zeng, and Prof. Hai-Qiang Mai from SYSUCC and Prof. Jianjun Liu from Genome Institute of Singapore are the corresponding authors.

Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is an Epstein-Barr virus related malignancy with unique ethnic and geographic distribution, which is prevalent in Southern China, Southeastern Asia and Northern Africa. Survival outcomes in patients with NPC have improved substantially, largely due to the widespread implementation of intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and the addition of platinum-based chemotherapy in patients with loco/regionally advanced disease. Nonetheless, current treatment strategy and risk stratification for clinical outcomes remain confined to the conventional TNM classification system. Patients with the same clinical stage have different outcomes after receiving similar treatments, indicating heterogeneity among patients with the same clinical stage as categorized by the TNM system and the limitation of the system in predicting the treatment outcomes. Disease recurrence and metastasis are major causes of treatment failure and thus poor survival in patients with NPC. Therefore, it’s important to identify effective biomarkers or indicators and reveal the underlying mechanisms for precise treatment planning and accurate prognosis of patients with NPC.

This study was strengthened by the largest sample size and long span of time. A total of 5,008 patients diagnosed at SYSUCC between 2003 and 2015, and 545 patients enrolled at NCCS from 2008 to 2018 were recruited and genotyped by using an exome-wide SNP array since 2012. We conducted a two-stage association study with multiple cohorts and found that SNP rs1131636, which is located at the 3′-UTR of RPA1 on chromosome 17, was significantly associated with overall survival in patients with NPC. Patients carrying T allele of rs1131636 tended to have inferior outcomes.

Bioinformatics and biological assays show that rs1131636 has regulatory effects on upstream RPA1. Functional studies further demonstrate that RPA1 promoted the growth, invasion, migration, and radioresistance of NPC cells. Additionally, miR-1253 has been identified as a suppressor for RPA1 expression, likely through regulation of its binding affinity to rs1131636 locus. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to reveal the potential of RPA1 as biomarker for precise prognosis, radiosensitizer and drug target in patient with NPC.

Figure: The mechanism of how the genetic variant at RPA1 affect the prognosis of NPC
Link to the paper: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/advs.201903727