Functions and clinical significance of KLRG1 in the development of lung adenocarcinoma and immunotherapy

BMC Cancer. 2021 Jun 29;21(1):752. doi: 10.1186/s12885-021-08510-3.


Background: As a marker of differentiation, Killer cell lectin like receptor G1 (KLRG1) plays an inhibitory role in human NK cells and T cells. However, its clinical role remains inexplicit. This work intended to investigate the predictive ability of KLRG1 on the efficacy of immune-checkpoint inhibitor in the treatment of lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD), as well as contribute to the possible molecular mechanisms of KLRG1 on LUAD development.

Methods: Using data from the Gene Expression Omnibus, the Cancer Genome Atlas and the Genotype-Tissue Expression, we compared the expression of KLRG1 and its related genes Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK), C-C motif chemokine receptor 2 (CCR2), Scm polycomb group protein like 4 (SCML4) in LUAD and normal lung tissues. We also established stable LUAD cell lines with KLRG1 gene knockdown and investigated the effect of KLRG1 knockdown on tumor cell proliferation. We further studied the prognostic value of the four factors in terms of overall survival (OS) in LUAD. Using data from the Gene Expression Omnibus, we further investigated the expression of KLRG1 in the patients with different responses after immunotherapy.

Results: The expression of KLRG1, BTK, CCR2 and SCML4 was significantly downregulated in LUAD tissues compared to normal controls. Knockdown of KLRG1 promoted the proliferation of A549 and H1299 tumor cells. And low expression of these four factors was associated with unfavorable overall survival in patients with LUAD. Furthermore, low expression of KLRG1 also correlated with poor responses to immunotherapy in LUAD patients.

Conclusion: Based on these findings, we inferred that KLRG1 had significant correlation with immunotherapy response. Meanwhile, KLRG1, BTK, CCR2 and SCML4 might serve as valuable prognostic biomarkers in LUAD.

Keywords: Immunotherapy; KLRG1; Lung adenocarcinoma; Prognosis.