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In Frontiers in genetics ; h5-index 62.0

Background: There has been growing evidence that the aberrantly expressed Homeobox-C 4 (HOXC4) plays crucial roles in the development of some cancer types. However, it remains unclear as far as its expression patterns and prognostic significance are concerned, as is tumor immunity. Methods: To investigate the expression levels and prognostic implications of HOXC4, multiple data sources were used in conjunction with quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) verification. Afterward, diverse immunological-related analyses, along with anti-cancer drug sensitivity, were performed in a number of cancer types. A further exploration of the underlying mechanisms of HOXC4 in tumorigenesis and immunity was carried out using the Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA) and the Gene Set Variation Analysis (GSVA). Results: Based on extensive database mining, HOXC4 was ubiquitously expressed across 21 tumor cell lines and significantly higher than that of normal tissues in 21 tumor types. The outcome of survival analysis including overall survival (OS), disease-free interval (DFI), disease-specific survival (DSS) and progression-free interval (PFI) revealed that upregulation of HOXC4 expression in several cancers was associated with worse prognosis. Additionally, HOXC4 was observed to correlate closely with colon adenocarcinoma (COAD), head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSC), lower grade glioma (LGG), liver hepatocellular carcinoma (LIHC), rectum adenocarcinoma (READ), and thyroid carcinoma (THCA) in terms of tumor immune cells infiltration. As a result of our comprehensive pan-cancer study, we have identified a significant link between the expression of HOXC4 and the efficacy of immunotherapy-related treatments, together with anti-cancer drug sensitivity. As a final note, HOXC4 was found to modulate multiple signaling pathways involved in tumorigenesis and immunity. Conclusion: HOXC4 has been implicated in our study for the first time as an oncogene in cancers with a poor prognosis, potentially laying the groundwork for promising clinical biomarkers and immunotherapy approaches.

Xiao Junbo, Li Ying, Liu Yajun, Chen Yiqian, He Zixuan, Peng Shifang, Yin Yani


HOXC4, bioinformatic analysis, immune modulation, immunotherapy-related analysis, pan-cancer