Replication Factor C4 in human hepatocellular carcinoma: A potent prognostic factor associated with cell proliferation

Biosci Trends. 2021 Sep 22;15(4):249-256. doi: 10.5582/bst.2021.01139. Epub 2021 May 30.

Abstract

Replication Factor c4 (RFC4) has been found to play important roles in many carcinomas and is correlated with poor prognosis. The present study was performed to investigate the specific role of RFC4 in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and the underlying molecular mechanism. Public datasets including TCGA and GTEx were applied to explore the expression of RFC4 in HCC and its association with HCC prognosis. The results of bioinformatics analysis showed that RFC4 was overexpressed in HCC tissues compared with noncancerous tissues and significantly correlated with poor prognosis for HCC. Through immunohistochemistry, the association between RFC4 expression and clinical-pathological features of HCC patients was evaluated. Western blots were applied to investigate relative protein expression. Then in vivo and in vitro experiments were performed to explore the function of RFC4 in HCC tumor cells. The present results suggest that high level expression of RFC4 is associated with tumor size. In addition, RFC4 knockdown suppressed the cell proliferation and sphere formation of hepatoma cells in vitro. Moreover, silencing of RFC4 significantly decreased the growth of tumors in a xenograft tumor model. In conclusion, our study indicates that RFC4 is a potential prognostic predictor associated with poor outcomes for HCC patients. Furthermore, knocking down RFC4 could significantly inhibit tumor progression both in vitro and in vivo. Therefore, the present study can shed new light on the understanding of molecular mechanisms of HCC and may provide molecular targets and diagnostic biomarkers for the treatment of HCC.

Keywords: RFC4; hepatocellular carcinoma; prognostic marker.