Objectives: To study the differential expression of genes in signal transduction pathway (STP) during the hepatocarcinogenesis in tree shrews induced by AFB1 and/or HBV and to elucidate the molecular mechanism of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development.
Methods: Adult tree shrews were divided into three groups: Group A was fed AFB1 only, Group B was infected firstly with HBV then fed AFB1 as in Group A, Group C served as the normal control. Liver biopsies were obtained at the 30th, 60th and 90th week of the experiment or until HCC occurred and the animals were sacrificed. Tree shrew-specific cDNA microarray was applied for detecting the differential expression of corresponding genes in each group at different time points during the experiment, and real time RT PCR was applied to verify the results of the cDNA microarray.
Results: Genes of IGF-II, C-rel, and NF-kappaB2 were differentially expressed between para-cancerous tissues and HCC tissues in both group A and group B, and the differential expression of bcl-2, cyclin A and CNTF was only seen in group B. Between the experimental groups A and B and the control group C, there were differential expressions of CNTF and cyclin A in the early 30th week and middle 60th week stage of hepatocarcinogenesis in tree shrews. Real time RT PCR results showed that the expression level of IGF-II and C-Rel in group A and of IGF-II in group B in HCC tissues were significantly lower than that in the adjacent non-cancerous tissues and in the biopsies taken at the 30th and 60th week of the experiment. Nevertheless, there were no significant differences between the para-cancerous tissues and the cancer tissues at the 30th and 60th week. These results were consistent with the cDNA microarray assay. The expression levels of C-Rel and CNTF in group B were not obviously altered in the para-cancerous tissues, HCC and at the 60th week, but they were significantly lower in these tissues than that in the tissues at the 30th week. In group A, the expression levels of CNTF in adjacent liver and HCC tissues were higher than that in para-cancerous lesions, but the difference did not reach a statistically significant level. In group C, the expression level of IGF-II, C-Rel and CNTF at different stages showed no significant differences, which was consistent with the cDNA microarray results.
Conclusions: To apply the tree shrew-specific cDNA microarray to detect the differential expression of genes related to signal transduction pathway during tree shrew hepatocarcinogenesis could be a valuable utility for further comprehending the mechanism of HCC. IGF-II, NF-kappaB2, C-rel, Bcl-2, and cyclin A. CNTF may be involved in the occurrence and progress of HCC in tree shrews.