J Cancer 2021; 12(21):6563-6575. doi:10.7150/jca.62309

Research Paper

Quantitative proteomic analysis reveals sophisticated metabolic alteration and identifies FMNL1 as a prognostic marker in clear cell renal cell carcinoma

Gui Ma1, Zirui Wang1, Junyao Liu1, Shengjun Fu3, Lili Zhang1, Duo Zheng1, Panfeng Shang1,2✉, Zhongjin Yue1,2✉

1. The Second Clinical College, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730030, Gansu, China.
2. Department of Urology, Lanzhou University Second Hospital, Lanzhou 730030, Gansu, China.
3. Key Laboratory of Urological Diseases in Gansu Province, Lanzhou University Second Hospital, Lanzhou 730030, Gansu, China.

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Ma G, Wang Z, Liu J, Fu S, Zhang L, Zheng D, Shang P, Yue Z. Quantitative proteomic analysis reveals sophisticated metabolic alteration and identifies FMNL1 as a prognostic marker in clear cell renal cell carcinoma. J Cancer 2021; 12(21):6563-6575. doi:10.7150/jca.62309. Available from https://www.jcancer.org/v12p6563.htm

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Purpose: In this study, we have undertaken the whole proteomic analysis and got a better understanding of biological processes involved in the development and progression of ccRCC. We hope promising biomarkers can be uncovered to facilitate early diagnosis, predict the prognosis and progression, more importantly, to be applied as potential therapeutic targets.

Experimental design: Fresh frozen tissue samples were surgically resected from patients with local or locally advanced ccRCC. Trypsin digested proteins were analyzed using TMT-based LC-MS/MS proteomic approach, followed by bioinformatic analysis. A potential prognostic marker FMNL1 was chosen to be validated in TCGA_KIRC datasets (n=525 and 72), further validation sets (n=10 and 10) and expanded validation sets (n=81 and 16). The effects of FMNL1 on proliferation, migration and invasion were determined by colony formation, wound healing, and transwell assays in 786-O and Caki-1 cells in vitro study.

Results: A total of 657 differentially expressed proteins were identified and quantified between ccRCC and adjacent normal tissues (p-value<0.05, FC>2 or<1/2), of which 186 proteins were up-regulated and 471 proteins were down-regulated. Bioinformatic analysis showed enriched metabolic biological processes and pathways. Univariate and multivariate analysis defined FMNL1 as an independent negative prognostic marker in the TCGA datasets. High expression of FMNL1 correlated significantly with tumor stage and distant metastasis (P<0.05) both in the TCGA-KIRC datasets and expanded validation sets. Kaplan-Meier survival curve illustrated that the patients with high FMNL1 protein level had shorter OS time in the expanded validation sets (p=0.0273). In vitro experiments presented the functional effects of FMNL1 knockdown on the inhibition of proliferation, migration and invasion in cancer cell lines.

Conclusion and clinical relevance: The proteomic results uncovered sophisticated metabolic reprogramming of ccRCC and indicated that the upregulation of rate-limiting enzymes in glycolysis and mitochondrial impairment may be the cause of metabolic reprogramming in ccRCC. Moreover, FMNL1 has been identified as a promising prognostic marker, and knockdown of FMNL1 could inhibit ccRCC cell proliferation, migration and invasion, which might be used as a new effective therapeutic strategy to inhibit the progression of ccRCC.

Keywords: ccRCC, proteomics, prognosis, FMNL1