Over-expression of c-raf-1 proto-oncogene in liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma

Hepatol Res. 2004 Jun;29(2):113-121. doi: 10.1016/j.hepres.2004.02.009.


Liver cirrhosis accompanies at least 70% of hepatocellular carcinomas world-wide. To evaluate the dysregulation of apoptosis and the MAPK pathway in hepatocarcinogenesis, we investigated the expression profiles of the genes involved in apoptosis and MAPK pathway in cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. A total of 94 tissue specimens (61 cirrhosis and 33 hepatocellular carcinoma) obtained from 67 patients were analyzed by microarray, quantitative PCR and Western blot experiments. Of 71 apoptosis-associated genes, c-raf-1 and S6 were up-regulated in 42.9% and 32.1% of 28 cirrhosis tissues, respectively, and both genes were well correlated in a five-cluster K-means analysis. For c-raf-1 and down stream genes in the MAPK pathway, c-raf-1, MEK, and MAPK were up-regulated in 40%, 80%, and 86.7% of 45 cirrhosis specimens, respectively, and in 50%, 63.6%, and 59.1% of 22 hepatocellular carcinoma specimens, respectively. Western blot analysis showed that activated Raf-1 was over-expressed in 91.2% (52/57) of cirrhosis and in 100% (30/30) of hepatocellular carcinoma. The expression level of Raf-1 in 14 of 26 paired samples (53.8%) was significantly higher in hepatocellular carcinoma than in cirrhosis ( [Formula: see text] -fold, [Formula: see text] ). These results suggest that the activation of Raf-1 plays an important role in the development of hepatocellular carcinoma.