The HOX gene network in hepatocellular carcinoma

Clemente Cillo, Giulia Schiavo, Monica Cantile, Michel P. Bihl, Paolo Sorrentino, Vincenza Carafa, Maria D'Armiento, Massimo Roncalli, Sebastiano Sansano, Raffaela Vecchione, Luigi Tornillo, Lucia Mori, Gennaro De Libero, Jessica Zucman-Rossi, Luigi Terracciano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Liver organogenesis and cancerogenesis share common mechanisms. HOX genes control normal development, primary cellular processes and are characterized by a unique genomic network organization. Less is known about the involvement of HOX genes with liver cancerogenesis. The comparison of the HOX gene network expression between nontumorous livers and hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) highlights significant differences in the locus A HOX genes, located on chromosome 7, with a consistent overexpression of HOXA13 mRNA thus validating this gene deregulation as a feature of HCC. HOXA13 is a determinant of gut primordia and posterior body structures. Transcriptome analysis of HCC/nontumorous liver mRNAs, selected on the basis of HOXA13 overexpression, recognizes a set of deregulated genes. The matching of these genes with previously reported HCC transcriptome analysis identifies cell-cycle and nuclear pore-related HCC phenotype displaying poor prognosis. HOXA13 and HOXA7 homeoproteins share a consensus sequence that physically links eIF4E nuclear bodies acting on the export of specific mRNAs (c-myc, FGF-2, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) and cyclin D1). We report the protein-protein interaction between HOXA13 and eIF4E in liver cancer cells and the deregulation of eIF4E mRNA and protein in cell cycle/nuclear pore HCC group phenotype and in T4 stage HCCs, respectively. Thus, transcriptional and post-transcriptional HOXA13 deregulation is involved in HCC possibly through the mRNA nuclear export of eIF4E-dependent transcripts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2577-2587
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2011


  • eIF4E
  • Hhex
  • HOXA13
  • HOXA7
  • nuclear export

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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