Poor prognosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is associated with a high potential of vascular invasion and metastasis. Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a key event in the tumor invasion process. Recently, signal transducers and activators of transcription 5 (STAT5) has been linked to tumor progression by EMT induction. However, the precise roles of STAT5 genes (STAT5a and STAT5b) in human epithelial cancers have not been elucidated clearly. The aim of this study is to analyze the roles of STAT5 isoforms in HCC progression using HCC clinical samples. We showed that activation of STAT5b, but not STAT5a, was found in HCC clinical samples and its expression was significantly associated with younger age (P = 0.037), advanced tumor stages (P = 0.003), venous infiltration (P = 0.016), microsatellite formation (P = 0.024), multiple tumor nodules (P = 0.02), and poor patient survival. To specifically investigate the mechanism underlying constitutive activation of STAT5b in HCC, EGFP-HBX was introduced into Huh-7 cells. STAT5b activation in HCC is at least partially mediated by HBX activation. Ectopic STAT5b transfection conferred increased HCC cell motility and invasiveness by induction of EMT changes. In conclusion, STAT5b activation enhanced HCC aggressiveness by induction of EMT, which was possibly mediated by HBX activation. STAT5b could serve as a novel molecular target for HCC treatment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research