Aims: The von-Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor is a multifunctional protein. VHL mutations are common in sporadic clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC). Different mutation types may specifically alter pVHL functions, which have significant impact on gene expression and, consequently, on the disease outcome. The aim of this study was to identify gene expression signatures that correlate with specific VHL gene mutation types in RCC.
Methods: Total RNA and genomic DNA were extracted from 94 frozen clear cell (ccRCC) and 21 papillary RCC (pRCC) specimens from the tumor biobank of Zurich University Hospital. Transcriptome analysis was performed using Affymetrix HG U133A gene chips. All ccRCC tumors were subjected to VHL gene mutation analysis.
Results: By applying significance analysis of microarrays genes were identified, which were differentially regulated among the tumor subgroups. Hierarchical clustering based on the expression profile of the most differentially regulated genes resulted in a significant stratification between the two RCC populations. A total of 186 differentially expressed genes were identified by comparing the gene expression profiles of ccRCC with VHL loss-of-function mutations and ccRCC with no gene alterations.
Conclusions: The results clearly argue for a significant influence of VHL mutations on gene expression profiles in RCC.