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Abstract

A high incidence of tumor recurrence and metastasis has been reported in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients; however, the underlying molecular mechanisms are largely unknown. In the present study a novel metastasis-related gene, eukaryotic initiation factor 5A2 (EIF5A2), was characterized for its role in HCC metastasis and underlying molecular mechanisms. Overexpression of EIF5A2 messenger RNA (mRNA) was detected in 50/81 (61.7%) of HCCs, which was significantly higher than those in nontumorous liver tissues. Compared with matched primary HCC, higher expression of EIF5A2 protein was observed in 25/47 (53.2%) of metastatic tumors. Functional studies found that ectopic expression of EIF5A2 could enhance cancer cell migration and invasion in vitro and tumor metastasis in vivo in an experimental mouse model. Moreover, inhibition of EIF5A by small interfering RNA (siRNA) or deoxyhypusine synthase (DHPS) inhibitor GC7, which inhibits EIF5A2 maturation, could effectively decrease cell motility. Further study found that EIF5A2 was able to induce epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a key event in tumor invasion and metastasis, characterized by down-regulation of epithelial markers (E-cadherin and β-catenin) and up-regulation of mesenchymal markers (fibronectin, N-cadherin, α-SMA, and vimentin). In addition, EIF5A2 could also activate RhoA/Rac1 to stimulate the formation of stress fiber and lamellipodia. Conclusion: EIF5A2 plays an important role in HCC invasion and metastasis by inducing EMT, as well as stimulating cytoskeleton rearrangement through activation of RhoA and Rac1. (HEPATOLOGY 2010.)