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High expression FUT1 and B3GALT5 is an independent predictor of postoperative recurrence and survival in hepatocellular carcinoma


Cancer may arise from dedifferentiation of mature cells or maturation-arrested stem cells. Previously we reported that definitive endoderm from which liver was derived, expressed Globo H, SSEA-3 and SSEA-4. In this study, we examined the expression of their biosynthetic enzymes, FUT1, FUT2, B3GALT5 and ST3GAL2, in 135 hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) tissues by qRT-PCR. High expression of either FUT1 or B3GALT5 was significantly associated with advanced stages and poor outcome. Kaplan Meier survival analysis showed significantly shorter relapse-free survival (RFS) for those with high expression of either FUT1 or B3GALT5 (P = 0.024 and 0.001, respectively) and shorter overall survival (OS) for those with high expression of B3GALT5 (P = 0.017). Combination of FUT1 and B3GALT5 revealed that high expression of both genes had poorer RFS and OS than the others (P < 0.001). Moreover, multivariable Cox regression analysis identified the combination of B3GALT5 and FUT1 as an independent predictor for RFS (HR: 2.370, 95% CI: 1.505-3.731, P < 0.001) and OS (HR: 2.153, 95% CI: 1.188-3.902, P = 0.012) in HCC. In addition, the presence of Globo H, SSEA-3 and SSEA-4 in some HCC tissues and their absence in normal liver was established by immunohistochemistry staining and mass spectrometric analysis.

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