A pseudogene-signature in glioma predicts survival
- Kai-Ming Gao†1,
- Xin-cheng Chen†1,
- Jun-xia Zhang†1,
- Yingyi Wang1,
- Wei Yan1 and
- Yong-Ping You1Email author
© Gao et al.; licensee BioMed Central. 2015
Received: 10 October 2014
Accepted: 16 February 2015
Published: 4 March 2015
Pseudogene was recognized as a potential tumor suppressor or oncogene in varies of diseases, however its roles in glioma have not been investigated. Our study was to identify the pseudogene-signature that predicted glioma survival. Using a pseudogene-mining approach, we performed pseudogene expression profiling in 183 glioma samples from the Chinese Glioma Genome Atlas (CGGA) and set it as the training set. We found a six-pseudogene signature correlated with patients’ clinical outcome via bioinformatics analyses (P ≤ 0.01), and validated it in the Repository of Molecular Brain Neoplasia Data (REMBRANDT) containing 350 cases. A formula calculating the risk score based on the six-pseudogene signature was introduced and the patients of CGGA set were classified into high-risk group and low-risk group with remarkably different survival (P < 0.001) based on their scores. The prognostic value of the signature was confirmed in the REMBRANDT set. Though the function of these pseudogenes is not clear, the identification of the prognostic pseudogenes indicated the potential roles of pseudogenes in glioma pathogenesis and they may have clinical implications in treating glioma.
Gliomas are the most frequent primary tumors of the CNS (central nervous system) , half of which are represented by glioblastoma multiforme (GBM, WHO grade IV), associated with a poor prognosis (median survival less than one year). Identification of markers predicting the survials of gliomas is required for appropriate follow-up and treatment. Over the past few decades, varies of molecular markers were introduced in predicting survival including microRNAs , lncRNAs  and mutations of unique genes . Accordingly, oligodendrogliomas that show frequent 1p19q co-deletions and mutations of the IDH1 gene are associated with a longer survival than astrocytomas . However, the prognostic significance of pseudogenes in glioma has not been investigated.
In the present study, we identified a prognostic six-pseudogene signature from the CGGA patients set, and validated it in the RAMBRANDT set.
Materials and methods
Pseudogenes represented in both the CGGA set and the REMBRANDT set were identified. Gene expression values represented by multiple probes were collapsed by taking the mean value of the probes [6,7]. The association between the pseudogene expression and patient’s overall survival was assessed by univariable Cox regression analysis along with a permutation test using Biometric Research Branch-Array (BRB-Array) Tools . Genes were considered statistically significant if their permutation P values were less than or equal to 0.01. A risk score formula was established by including each selected pseudogene weighting by its coefficient obtained from multivariable Cox regression analysis [9,10]. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis was used to estimate the survival distributions. The log-rank test was used to assess the statistical significance between stratified survival groups using the median value as the cutoff. A 2-sided P value <0.05 was regarded as significant.
Identification of prognostic pseudogenes from the CGGA data set
Six pseudogene symbols
Gene symbol c
Parent gene c
Permutation p-value a, b
The six-pseudogene signature correlates with patients’ survival
Validation of the six-pseudogene signature in predicting survival in the REMBRANDT dataset
To confirm our findings, we validated our six-pseudogene signature in the REMBRANDT set. After calculating risk score of all the patients using the formula in the REMBRANDT set, the patients were assigned into a low-risk group and a high-risk group using the same cutoff point as for the CGGA set. Patients in the low-risk group had significant longer over survival time than those in the high-risk group (P < 0.001), which also maintained the consistence with the CGGA set.
The six-pseudogene signature was independent of age and gender
Pseudogenes are believed to be dysfunctional genes that have lost their protein-coding ability or are otherwise no longer expressed in the cell . However, some of them do play important roles in regulating their parent genes, and some even can be transcribed into RNA. It is also recognized that pseudogenes may regulate tumor suppressors and oncogenes. Pseudogenes were reported to correlate with varies of diseases, such as CYP4Z2P related to breast cancer , while it has not been investigated in glioma.
To verify our hypothesis, we performed pseudogene profiling in large cohorts of glioma patients from CGGA and REMBRANDT. By analyzing the association between gene expression profiling and clinical outcome of glioma patients, we identified a six-pseudogene signature significantly related to the overall survival of glioma patients.
Functional characteristics of the six pseudogenes
As for the functional characteristics of the six pseudogenes, one pseudogene called TDH, or L-threonine dehydrogenase, was believed to be protective, whereas the other five were risky ones.
TDH is a pseudogene of L-threonine 3-dehydrogenase (TDH), whose expression was found in human tissues including heart, brain, placenta, lung, liver, skeletal muscle, kidney, pancreas, spleen, thymus, prostate, testis, ovary and small intestine. TDH mRNA was present in most cell types examined, but was below the level of detection in endothelial cells, glioma cell lines and some leukaemia cell lines according to the study of Alasdair J Edgar . Though TDH is an expressed pseudogene, its function is not clear. So far, we can’t find a single research on TDH. However, in our study, the high level expression of TDH related with longer overall survival, which indicated TDH might be a protect pseudogene. As the expression of TDH mRNA was low in glioma cell line , we conjectured that TDH might serve as an endo-generate siRNA, or work as a molecular sponge combining microRNAs. The mechanism is subject to be investigated.
The present study demonstrated the associations between the high expressions of these five pseudogenes and shortened overall survival. The roles of these pseudogenes in glioma pathogenesis are presently unclear, and our findings suggest that they deserve further studies. We might conjecture some information from their parent genes that were studied before. The parent genes of these pseudogenes (SP3P, ANXA2P3, PTTG3P, LPAL2, CLCA3P) are SP3 transcription factor (Sp3), Annexin A2 (ANXA2), pituitary tumor-transforming 1(PTTG1), Lp(a)(LPA lipoprotein) and chloride channel accessory 3 (CLCA3) respectively.
ANXA2 was found expressed significant higher in NSCLC (Non-small cell lung cancer) tissue compared to that in adjacent non-cancerous tissue according to the study of Jia et al. , and Zhang et al. found annexin A2 silencing inhibits invasion, migration, and tumorigenic potential of hepatoma cells , which indicated that annexin A2 (ANXA2) might serve as an important mediator of malignant transformation and development of hepatocellular carcinoma. The pseudogene of ANXA2 may paly the same role in glioma.
PTTG is an oncogene that plays diverse roles in the occurrence, proliferation, and invasion of a variety of tumors, and PTTG has already served as one of the markers of proliferative activity progress in many tumors . Study were carried out on the association between PTTG expression level and human pituitary macroadenomas , which suggested PTTG may promote invasive tumor growth by stimulating pituitary adenomas proliferation. As the pseudogene of PTTG, PTTG3P may play as an oncogene in glioma, which played as a risky gene.
CLCA may serve as a tumor suppressor, which cound be inferred from the result that hCLCA2 is expressed in normal breast epithelium but not in 29 breast cancer lesions of different stages [17,18]. Our research showed CLCA3P was a risky pseudogene. We conjectured that CLCA3P might be a molecular sponge same as PTENP1. However, the mechanism is subject to be investigated.
The encoded protein of Lp(a) constitutes a substantial portion of lipoprotein(a) and is proteolytically cleaved, resulting in fragments that attach to atherosclerotic lesions and promote thrombogenesis [19,20] which seemed to have no relationship with tumor.
Limitations of the study
Our study does have some small limitations. In our study, the data sets were not designed for detecting pseudogenes, so, only a small minority of human pseudogenes (88 genes) were included in the analysis. Because of the different platform using in the CGGA and REMBRANDT, we only retained the pseudogenes that appeared on both platforms for survival analysis. So, these prognostic pseudogenes identified here might not represent all the pseudogenes correlated with glioma overall survival. Besides, the mechanisms of the pseudogenes are subject to be investigated on which we intended to study in our later research. However, the significant and consistent correlation of our six-pseudogene signature with overall survival in several independent data sets indicates that it is a potentially powerful prognostic marker for glioma.
In conclusion, by employing two independent patients cohorts, our study revealed the prognostic values of pseudogenes in glioma for the first time. Our findings strongly prompt that pseudogene signatures may be of use in predicting the treating outcome and may be novel biomarkers in glioma prognoses. As the updating of common databases, pseudogenes will show more value in future glioma studies, while this is what we continue to explore in the future. We will focus on the function of the pseudogenes we found and try to validate our findings in our clinical outcome.
Analyses were performed using BRB-ArrayTools developed by Dr. Richard Simon and BRB-ArrayTools Development Team.
This work was supported by grants from the National High Technology Research and Development Program of China (863) (2012AA02A508), the Research Special Fund For Public Welfare Industry of Health (201402008), National Natural Science Foundation of China (91229121江涛, 81272792尤, 81472362尤, 81172389刘, 81372709刘, 81302185张, 81302184王协锋), Jiangsu Province’s Natural Science Foundation (20131019), Jiangsu Province’s Key Provincial Talents Program (RC2011051), Jiangsu Province’s Key Discipline of Medicine (XK201117), Jiangsu Provincial Special Program of Medical Science (BL2012028), and Program for Development of Innovative Research Team in the First Affiliated Hospital of NJMU, and the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (PAPD).
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