Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer, has very poor outcomes. Current therapies often have low efficacy and significant toxicities. Thus, there is a critical need for the development of novel therapeutic approaches for HCC. We have developed a novel bioinformatics pipeline, which integrates genome-wide DNA methylation and gene expression data, to identify genes required for the survival of specific molecular cancer subgroups but not normal cells. Targeting these genes may induce cancer-specific “synthetic lethality”. Initially, five potential HCC molecular subgroups were identified based on global DNA methylation patterns. Subgroup-2 exhibited the most unique methylation profile and two candidate subtype-specific vulnerability or SL-like genes were identified for this subgroup, including TIAM1, a guanine nucleotide exchange factor encoding gene known to activate Rac1 signalling. siRNA targeting TIAM1 inhibited cell proliferation in TIAM1-positive (subgroup-2) HCC cell lines but had no effect on the normal hepatocyte HHL5 cell line. Furthermore, TIAM1-positive/subgroup-2 cell lines were significantly more sensitive to the TIAM1/RAC1 inhibitor NSC23766 compared with TIAM1-negative HCC lines or the normal HHL5 cell line. The results are consistent with a synthetic lethal role for TIAM1 in a methylation-defined HCC subgroup and suggest it may be a viable therapeutic target in this subset of HCC patients.
|Number of pages||13|
|Journal||International Journal of Molecular Sciences|
|Publication status||Published - 28 Mar 2023|