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In Journal of oncology

Background : Cancer stem cells (CSCs), characterized by self-renewal and therapeutic resistance, play important roles in stomach adenocarcinoma (STAD). However, the molecular mechanism of STAD stem cells is still unclear. In this study, our purpose is to explore the expression of stem cell-related genes in STAD.

Methods : The stemness index based on mRNA expression (mRNAsi) was used to analyze STAD cases in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). Firstly, mRNAsi was used and analyzed by differential expression, survival analysis, clinical stage, and gender in STAD. Then, weighted gene coexpression network analysis (WGCNA) was used to discover the fascinating modules and key genes. Enrichment analysis was carried out to annotate the functions and pathways of key genes. The gene expression comprehensive database (GEO) in STAD was used to verify the expression levels of key genes in all cancers. Protein-protein interaction networks is used to determine the relationships between key genes.

Results : The mRNAsi was obviously upregulated in tumor cases. With the increase of tumor stage and T stage, the mRNAsi score decreased, and the overall survival rate of high score group patients was better. According to the degree of association with mRNAsi, different modules and key genes were screened out. A total of 6,740 differential genes were found, of which 1,147 genes were downregulated and 5,593 genes were upregulated. 19 key genes (BUB1, BUB1B, KIF14, NCAPH, RACGAP, KIF15, CENPF, TPX2, RAD54L, KIF18B, KIF4A, TTK, SGO2, PLK4, ARHGAP11A, XRCC2, Clorf112, NCAPG, and ORC6) were screened due to significant upregulation in STAD. And they had been proven that enriched from the cell cycle Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway, relating to cell proliferation Gene Ontology (GO) terms, as well. Among them, 9 genes have been extensively associated to OS, and 3 genes had been associated to receive chemotherapy resistance. PPI protein network suggests that there is a sturdy correlation between these key genes.

Conclusion : A total of 19 key genes were found to play an essential position in retaining the traits of STAD stem cells. These genes can be used to evaluate the prognosis of STAD patients or become specific therapeutic targets.

Guo Si Hong, Ma Li, Chen Jie