Centromere proteins (CENPs) are the main constituent proteins of kinetochore, which are essential for cell division. In recent years, several studies have revealed that several CENPs were aberrantly expressed in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, numerous centromere proteins have not been studied in HCC. In this study, we used databases of Oncomine, Gene Expression Profiling Interactive Analysis (GEPIA), the Kaplan-Meier Plotter, cBioPortal, the Human Protein Atlas (HPA), and TIMER (Tumor Immune Estimation Resource) and immunohistochemical staining of clinical specimens to investigate the expression of 15 major centromere proteins in HCC to evaluate their potential prognostic value. We found that the mRNA levels of 4 out of 15 centromere proteins (CENPL, CENPQ, CENPR, and CENPU) were significantly higher in HCC than in normal tissues, and their mRNA levels were associated with the tumor stages (p values < 0.01). Patients with higher mRNA levels of CENPL had poorer overall survival, progression-free survival, relapse-free survival, and disease-specific survival (p values < 0.05). Furthermore, the higher levels of CENPL mRNA were associated with worse overall survival in males without hepatitis virus infection (p values < 0.05). The protein expression level of CENPL in human HCC tissue was higher than that in normal liver tissue. In addition, the expression of CENPL was positively correlated with the levels of the tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. The results suggest that the high mRNA expression of CENPL may be a potential predictor of prognosis in HCC patients.
Zhongyuan Cui, Lijia Xiao, Fengsui Chen