The role of HMGA1 protein in gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors

Cell Cycle. 2022 Jun;21(12):1335-1346. doi: 10.1080/15384101.2022.2050646. Epub 2022 Mar 14.


Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) are neoplasms derived from neuroendocrine cells. One of their main features is to often remain asymptomatic and clinically undetectable. High Mobility Group A (HMGA) proteins belong to a family of non-histone chromatinic proteins able to modulate gene expression through the interaction with DNA and transcription factors. They are overexpressed in most of the human malignancies, playing a critical role in carcinogenesis. However, their expression levels and their role in neuroendocrine carcinogenesis has not been exhaustively evaluated until now. Therefore, in this study, we have addressed the validity of using the expression of HMGA1 as a diagnostic marker and have investigated its role in NET carcinogenesis. The expression of HMGA1 has been evaluated by qRT-PCR and immunohistochemistry, using NET tissue microarrays, in a cohort of gastroenteropancreatic (GEP)-NET samples. The expression levels of HMGA1 have been then correlated with the main clinical features of NET samples. Finally, the contribution of HMGA1 overexpression to NET development has been addressed as far as the modulation of proliferation and migration abilities of NET cells is concerned. Here, we report that HMGA1 is overexpressed in GEP-NET samples, at both mRNA and protein levels, and that the silencing of HMGA1 protein expression interferes with the ability of NET cells to proliferate and migrate through the downregulation of Cyclin E, Cyclin B1 and EZH2. These results propose the HMGA proteins as new diagnostic and prognostic markers.

Keywords: HMGA1; Neuroendocrine tumors; gastroenteropatic tumors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinogenesis
  • HMGA Proteins* / genetics
  • HMGA1a Protein / genetics
  • HMGA1a Protein / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Neoplasms
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors* / genetics
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors* / metabolism
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors* / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms
  • Stomach Neoplasms
  • Transcription Factors


  • HMGA Proteins
  • HMGA1 protein, human
  • Transcription Factors
  • HMGA1a Protein

Supplementary concepts

  • Gastro-enteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumor

Grants and funding

This research was funded by Krebsliga Beider Basel, grant number Nr. 06-2016.