Impact of retrotransposon protein L1 ORF1p expression on oncogenic pathways in hepatocellular carcinoma: the role of cytoplasmic PIN1 upregulation

Bassier Zadran, Praveen Dhondurao Sudhindar, Daniel Wainwright, Yvonne Bury, Saimir Luli, Rachel Howarth, Misti Vanette McCain, Robyn Watson, Hannah Huet, Fanni Palinkas, Rolando Berlinguer Palmini, John Casement, Derek A. Mann, Fiona Oakley, John Lunec, Helen Reeves, Geoffrey J Faulkner, Ruchi Shukla*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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BACKGROUND: Molecular characterisation of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is central to the development of novel therapeutic strategies for the disease. We have previously demonstrated mutagenic consequences of Long-Interspersed Nuclear Element-1 (LINE1s/L1) retrotransposition. However, the role of L1 in HCC, besides somatic mutagenesis, is not well understood.

METHODS: We analysed L1 expression in the TCGA-HCC RNAseq dataset (n = 372) and explored potential relationships between L1 expression and clinical features. The findings were confirmed by immunohistochemical (IHC) analysis of an independent human HCC cohort (n = 48) and functional mechanisms explored using in vitro and in vivo model systems.

RESULTS: We observed positive associations between L1 and activated TGFβ-signalling, TP53 mutation, alpha-fetoprotein and tumour invasion. IHC confirmed a positive association between pSMAD3, a surrogate for TGFβ-signalling status, and L1 ORF1p (P < 0.0001, n = 32). Experimental modulation of L1 ORF1p levels revealed an influence of L1 ORF1p on key hepatocarcinogenesis-related pathways. Reduction in cell migration and invasive capacity was observed upon L1 ORF1 knockdown, both in vitro and in vivo. In particular, L1 ORF1p increased PIN1 cytoplasmic localisation. Blocking PIN1 activity abrogated L1 ORF1p-induced NF-κB-mediated inflammatory response genes while further activated TGFβ-signalling confirming differential alteration of PIN1 activity in cellular compartments by L1 ORF1p.

DISCUSSION: Our data demonstrate a causal link between L1 ORF1p and key oncogenic pathways mediated by PIN1, presenting a novel therapeutic avenue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1236-1248
Number of pages13
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number7
Early online date27 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2023


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