Increasing evidence shows that dysregulated long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) can serve as potential biomarkers for cancer prognosis. However, lncRNA signatures, as potential prognostic biomarkers for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), have been seldom reported.
Based on our previous transcriptome RNA sequencing analysis from 15 paired ESCC tissues and adjacent normal tissues, we selected 10 lncRNAs with high score rank and characterized the expression of those lncRNAs, by qRT-PCR, in 138 ESCC and paired adjacent normal samples. These 138 patients were divided randomly into training (n = 77) and test (n = 59) groups. A prognostic signature of lncRNAs was identified in the training group and validated in the test group and in an independent cohort (n = 119). Multivariable Cox regression analysis evaluated the independence of the signature in overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS) prediction. GO and KEGG pathway analysis, combined with cell transwell and proliferation assays, are applied to explore the function of the three lncRNAs.
A novel three-lncRNA signature, comprised of RP11-366H4.1.1 (ENSG00000248370), LINC00460 (ENSG00000233532) and AC093850.2 (ENSG00000230838), was identified. The signature classified patients into high-risk and low-risk groups with different overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS). For the training group, median OS: 23.1 months vs. 39.1 months, P < 0.001; median DFS: 15.2 months vs. 33.3 months, P < 0.001. For the test group, median OS: 23 months vs. 59 months, P < 0.001; median DFS: 16.4 months vs. 50.8 months, P < 0.001. For the independent cohort, median OS: 22.4 months vs. 60.4 months, P < 0.001). The signature indicates that patients in the high-risk group show poor OS and DFS, whereas patients with a low-risk group show significantly better outcome. The independence of the signature was validated by multivariable Cox regression analysis. GO and KEGG pathway analysis for 588 protein-coding genes-associated with the three lncRNAs indicated that the three lncRNAs were involved in tumorigenesis. In vitro assays further demonstrated that the three lncRNAs promoted the migration and proliferation of ESCC cells.
The three-lncRNA signature is a novel and potential predictor of OS and DFS for patients with ESCC.