Background: Increasing evidence has revealed the effect of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) on tumor microenvironment and cancer treatment. However, an EMT-based signature to predict the prognosis and therapeutic effect in gastric cancer (GC) has rarely been established.
Methods: Differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between paired primary gastric and ovarian metastatic tumors were identified through comparative RNA-seq analysis, followed by the construction of metastasis-related EMT signature (MEMTS) based on DEGs and EMT gene set. Then, both The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) cohort and the Asian Cancer Research Group (ACRG) cohort were analyzed to explore the potential association between MEMTS and prognosis in GC. Samsung Medical Center (SMC) cohort and two individual immunotherapy treatment cohorts, including Kim cohort and Hugo cohort, were utilized to evaluate the predictive value of MEMTS on the response to adjuvant therapy and immunotherapy, respectively. Finally, the potential association of MEMTS with tumor environment and immune escape mechanisms was investigated.
Results: High MEMTS predicted a poor prognosis in patients with GC. Patients with low MEMTS potentially gained more benefits from adjuvant chemoradiotherapy than those with high MEMTS. MEMTS reliably predicted the response to immunotherapy in GC (area under the curve = 0.896). MEMTS was significantly associated with cancer-associated fibroblasts and stromal score in the aspect of the tumor microenvironment.
Conclusion: MEMTS serves as a potential biomarker to predict the prognosis and response to adjuvant therapy and immunotherapy in GC. MEMTS-based evaluation of individual tumors enables personalized treatment for GC patients in the future.
Keywords: distant metastasis; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; gastric cancer; immunotherapy; tumor environment.
Copyright © 2022 Song, Wei, Huo, Gao and Liu.