Background: VHL inactivation is the most established molecular characteristic of clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC), with only a few additional genes implicated in development of this kidney tumor. In recently published ccRCC gene expression meta-analysis study we identified a number of deregulated genes with limited information available concerning their biological role, represented by gene transcripts belonging to transmembrane proteins family (TMEMs). TMEMs are predicted to be components of cellular membranes, such as mitochondrial membranes, ER, lysosomes and Golgi apparatus. Interestingly, the function of majority of TMEMs remains unclear. Here, we analyzed expression of ten TMEM genes in the context of ccRCC progression and development, and characterized these proteins bioinformatically.
Methods: The expression of ten TMEMs (RTP3, SLC35G2, TMEM30B, TMEM45A, TMEM45B, TMEM61, TMEM72, TMEM116, TMEM207 and TMEM213) was measured by qPCR. T-test, Pearson correlation, univariate and multivariate logistic and Cox regression were used in statistical analysis. The topology of studied proteins was predicted with Metaserver, together with PSORTII, Pfam and Localizome tools.
Results: We observed significant deregulation of expression of 10 analyzed TMEMs in ccRCC tumors. Cluster analysis of expression data suggested the down-regulation of all tested TMEMs to be a descriptor of the most advanced tumors. Logistic and Cox regression potentially linked TMEM expression to clinical parameters such as: metastasis, Fuhrman grade and overall survival. Topology predictions classified majority of analyzed TMEMs as type 3 and type 1 transmembrane proteins, with predicted localization mainly in ER.
Conclusions: The massive down-regulation of expression of TMEM family members suggests their importance in the pathogenesis of ccRCC and the bioinformatic analysis of TMEM topology implies a significant involvement of ER proteins in ccRCC pathology.