Characterization of the prognostic values of the NDRG family in gastric cancer

Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2019 Jul 21;12:1756284819858507. doi: 10.1177/1756284819858507. eCollection 2019.


Background: The N-myc downstream-regulated gene (NDRG) family, NDRG1-4, has been involved in a wide spectrum of biological functions in multiple cancers. However, their prognostic values remain sparse in gastric cancer (GC). Therefore, it is crucial to systematically investigate the prognostic values of the NDRG family in GC.

Methods: The prognostic values of the NDRG family were evaluated by Kaplan-Meier Plotter and SurvExpress. The mRNA of the NDRG family was investigated in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). Transcription factors (TFs) and miRNAs associated with the NDRG family were predicted by NetworkAnalysis. The prognostic values of DNA methylation levels were analyzed by MethSurv. The correlation between immune cells and the NDRG family was evaluated by the Tumor Immune Estimation Resource (TIMER) database.

Results: High levels of mRNA expression of NDRG2 and NDRG3 were associated with a favorable prognosis in all GCs. In HER2 - GC, NDRG1 was significantly associated with a poor prognosis of GC [hazard ratio (HR) = 1.65, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.16-2.33, p = 0.0046]. In HER2 + GC, NDRG4 showed a poor prognosis (HR = 1.4, 95% CI: 1.06-1.85, p = 0.017). NDRG4 was an independent prognostic factor in recurrence-free survival by TCGA cohort. The low-risk NDRG-signature group displayed a significantly favorable survival outcome than the high-risk group (HR = 1.76, 95% CI: 1.2-2.59, p = 0.00385). The phosphorylated protein NDRG1 (NDRG1_pT346) displayed a favorable overall survival and was significantly associated with HER2 and phosphorylated HER2. Epidermis development was the top biological process (BP) for coexpressed genes associated with NDRG1 and NDRG4, while mitotic nuclear division and mitotic cell processes were the top BPs for NDRG2 and NDRG3, respectively. Overall, 6 CpGs of NDRG1, 4 CpGs of NDRG2, 3 CpGs of NDRG3 and 24 CpGs of NDRG4 were associated with significant prognosis. CD4+ T-cells showed the highest correlation with NDRG4 (correlation = 0.341, p = 2.14e-11). Furthermore, BCL6 in follicular helper T-cells (Tfh) cells showed the highest association with NDRG4 (correlation = 0.438, p = 00e+00).

Conclusions: This study analyzed the multilevel prognostic values and biological roles of the NDRG family in GC.

Keywords: HER2; NDRG family; TCGA; gastric cancer; methylation; prognosis.