Background: Fibronectin type III domain-containing (FNDC) proteins fulfill manifold functions in tissue development and regulation of cellular metabolism. FNDC4 was described as anti-inflammatory factor, upregulated in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). FNDC signaling includes direct cell-cell interaction as well as release of bioactive peptides, like shown for FNDC4 or FNDC5. The G-protein-coupled receptor 116 (GPR116) was found as a putative FNDC4 receptor. We here aim to comprehensively analyze the mRNA expression of FNDC1, FNDC3A, FNDC3B, FNDC4, FNDC5, and GPR116 in nonaffected and affected mucosal samples of patients with IBD or colorectal cancer (CRC).
Methods: Mucosa samples were obtained from 30 patients undergoing diagnostic colonoscopy or from surgical resection of IBD or CRC. Gene expression was determined by quantitative real-time PCR. In addition, FNDC expression data from publicly available Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) data sets (GDS4296, GDS4515, and GDS5232) were analyzed.
Results: Basal mucosal expression revealed higher expression of FNDC3A and FNDC5 in the ileum compared to colonic segments. FNDC1 and FNDC4 were significantly upregulated in IBD. None of the investigated FNDCs was differentially expressed in CRC, just FNDC3A trended to be upregulated. The GEO data set analysis revealed significantly downregulated FNDC4 and upregulated GPR116 in microsatellite unstable (MSI) CRCs. The expression of FNDCs and GPR116 was independent of age and sex.
Conclusions: FNDC1 and FNDC4 may play a relevant role in the pathobiology of IBD, but none of the investigated FNDCs is regulated in CRC. GPR116 may be upregulated in advanced or MSI CRC. Further studies should validate the altered FNDC expression results on protein levels and examine the corresponding functional consequences.