Published online Sep 15, 2023. doi: 10.4251/wjgo.v15.i9.1567
Peer-review started: February 13, 2023
First decision: May 23, 2023
Revised: July 10, 2023
Accepted: August 6, 2023
Article in press: August 6, 2023
Published online: September 15, 2023
Cellular senescence, a state of stable growth arrest, is intertwined with human cancers. Due to the highly heterogeneous malignancy at the molecular and histological levels, characterization of cellular-senescence-based classification might facilitate the personalized treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Nonetheless, the heterogeneity of cellular-senescence-related features makes the definition and targeting of treatment-induced senescent cells challenging.
This study aimed to characterize cellular-senescence-based phenotypes in HCC, and identify a novel cellular-senescence-related therapeutic target.
We enrolled two HCC datasets, TCGA-LIHC and International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC). Unsupervised clustering was executed to probe tumor heterogeneity based upon cellular senescence genes. Least absolute shrinkage and selection operator algorithm was utilized to define a cellular-senescence-relevant scoring system. TRNP1 expression was measured in HCCs and normal tissues through immunohistochemistry, immunoblotting and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. The influence of TRNP1 on HCC senescence and growth was proven via a series of experiments.
TCGA-LIHC patients were classified as three cellular senescence subtypes, named C1–3. The robustness and reproducibility of these subtypes were proven in the ICGC cohort. C2 had the worst overall survival, C1 the next, and C3 the best. C2 presented the highest levels of immune checkpoints, abundance of immune cells, and immunogenetic indicators. Thus, C2 might respond to immunotherapy. C2 had the lowest somatic mutation rate, while C1 presented the highest copy number variations. A cellular-senescence-relevant gene signature was generated, which can predict patient survival, and chemo- or immunotherapeutic response. Experimentally, it was proven that TRNP1 presented with remarkable upregulation in HCCs. TRNP1 knockdown induced apoptosis and senescence of HCC cells and attenuated tumor growth.
These findings provide a systematic framework for assessing cellular senescence in HCC, which decode the tumor heterogeneity and tailor the pharmacological interventions to improve clinical management.
Cellular senescence, a state of stable growth arrest, is implicated in human cancers. Nevertheless, characterization of cellular-senescence-associated phenotypes in HCC is still indistinct. Here, we proposed a novel cellular-senescence-based classification for HCC and identified TRNP1 as a novel therapeutic target.