Upregulation of the tumor suppressor gene menin in hepatocellular carcinomas and its significance in fibrogenesis


  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report.


The molecular mechanisms underlying the progression of cirrhosis toward hepatocellular carcinoma were investigated by a combination of DNA microarray analysis and literature data mining. By using a microarray screening of suppression subtractive hybridization cDNA libraries, we first analyzed genes differentially expressed in tumor and nontumor livers with cirrhosis from 15 patients with hepatocellular carcinomas. Seventy-four genes were similarly recovered in tumor (57.8% of differentially expressed genes) and adjacent nontumor tissues (64% of differentially expressed genes) compared with histologically normal livers. Gene ontology analyses revealed that downregulated genes (n = 35) were mostly associated with hepatic functions. Upregulated genes (n = 39) included both known genes associated with extracellular matrix remodeling, cell communication, metabolism, and post-transcriptional regulation gene (e.g., ZFP36L1), as well as the tumor suppressor gene menin (multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1; MEN1). MEN1 was further identified as an important node of a regulatory network graph that integrated array data with array-independent literature mining. Upregulation of MEN1 in tumor was confirmed in an independent set of samples and associated with tumor size (P = .016). In the underlying liver with cirrhosis, increased steady-state MEN1 mRNA levels were correlated with those of collagen α2(I) mRNA (P < .01). In addition, MEN1 expression was associated with hepatic stellate cell activation during fibrogenesis and involved in transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β)–dependent collagen α2(I) regulation. In conclusion, menin is a key regulator of gene networks that are activated in fibrogenesis associated with hepatocellular carcinoma through the modulation of TGF-β response. (HEPATOLOGY 2006;44:1296–1307.)