TWIST1 is expressed in colorectal carcinomas and predicts patient survival

PLoS One. 2011 Mar 28;6(3):e18023. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018023.


TWIST1 is a transcription factor that belongs to the family of basic helix-loop-helix proteins involved in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and invasion processes. The TWIST1 protein possesses oncogenic, drug-resistant, angiogenic and invasive properties, and has been related with several human tumors and other pathologies. Colorectal cancer is one of the tumors in which TWIST1 is over-expressed, but its involvement in the clinical outcome of the disease is still unclear. We tested, by RT-PCR, the expression levels of TWIST1 in normal and tumor paired-sample tissues from a series of 151 colorectal cancer patients, in order to investigate its prognostic value as a tumor marker. TWIST1 expression was restricted to tumor tissues (86.1%) and correlated with lymph node metastasis (LNM). Adjusted analysis showed that the expression levels of TWIST1 correlated with overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS). Importantly, TWIST1 expression levels predicted OS specifically at stages I and II. Moreover, patients with stage II tumors and high TWIST1 levels showed even shorter survival than patients with stage III tumors. These results suggest that TWIST1 expression levels could be a tumor indicator in stage II patients and help select patients at greater risk of poor prognosis who might benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / genetics
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics*
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Twist-Related Protein 1 / genetics*
  • Twist-Related Protein 1 / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation / genetics


  • Nuclear Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • TWIST1 protein, human
  • Twist-Related Protein 1