The proteoglycan versican (VCAN) promotes tumor progression and enhances metastasis in several cancers; however, its role in clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) remains unknown. Recent evidence suggests that VCAN is an important target of chromosomal 5q gain, one of the most prevalent genetic abnormalities in ccRCC. Thus, we investigated whether VCAN expression is associated with the pathogenesis of ccRCC. VCAN expression was analyzed using three RCC and normal kidney cell lines as well as a clinical cohort of 84 matched ccRCC and normal renal tissues. Functional analyses on growth and progression properties were performed using VCAN depleted ccRCC cells. Microarray expression profiling was employed to investigate the target genes and biological pathways involved in VCAN-mediated ccRCC carcinogenesis. ccRCC had elevated VCAN expression in comparison with normal kidney in both cell lines and clinical specimens. The elevated expression of VCAN was significantly correlated with metastasis (P<0.001) and worse 5-year overall survival after radical nephrectomy (P=0.014). In vitro, VCAN knockdown significantly decreased cell proliferation and increased apoptosis in Caki-2 and 786-O cells, and this was associated with alteration of several TNF signaling-related genes such as TNF-α, BID, and BAK. Furthermore, VCAN depletion markedly decreased cell migration and invasion which correlated with reduction of MMP7 and CXCR4. These results demonstrate that VCAN promotes ccRCC tumorigenesis and metastasis and thus, is an attractive target for novel diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic strategies. Implications: This study highlights the oncogenic role of VCAN in renal cell carcinogenesis and suggests that this gene has therapeutic and/or biomarker potential for renal cell cancer.
- Received December 5, 2016.
- Revision received January 27, 2017.
- Accepted February 20, 2017.
- Copyright ©2017, American Association for Cancer Research.