Cysteine conjugate beta-lyase 2 (CCBL2) expression as a prognostic marker of survival in breast cancer patients

PLoS One. 2022 Jun 30;17(6):e0269998. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0269998. eCollection 2022.


Objective: Cysteine conjugate beta-lyase 2 (CCBL2), also known as kynurenine aminotransferase 3 (KAT3) or glutamine transaminase L (GTL), plays an essential role in transamination and cytochrome P450. Its correlation with some other cancers has been explored, but breast cancer (BC) not yet.

Methods: The mRNA and protein expression of CCBL2 in BC cell lines and patient samples were detected by RT-qPCR and immunohistochemistry (IHC). BC patients' clinical information and RNA-Seq expression were acquired via The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database. Patients were categorized into high/low CCBL2 expression groups based on the optimal cutoff value (8.973) determined by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve. We investigated CCBL2 and clinicopathological characteristics' relationship using Chi-square tests, estimated diagnostic capacity using ROC curves and drew survival curves using Kaplan-Meier estimate. We compared survival differences using Cox regression and externally validated using Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) database. We evaluated enriched signaling pathways using gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA), explored CCBL2 and relevant genes' relationship using tumor immunoassay resource (TIMER) databases and used the human protein atlas (HPA) for pan-cancer analysis and IHC.

Results: CCBL2 was overexpressed in normal human cell lines and tissues. CCBL2 expression was lower in BC tissues (n = 1104) than in normal tissues (n = 114), validated by GEO database. Several clinicopathologic features were related to CCBL2, especially estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and clinical stages. The low expression group exhibited poor survival. CCBL2's area under curve (AUC) analysis showed finite diagnostic capacity. Multivariate cox-regression analysis indicated CCBL2 independently predicted BC survival. GSEA showed enriched pathways: early estrogen response, MYC and so on. CCBL2 positively correlated with estrogen, progesterone and androgen receptors. CCBL2 was downregulated in most cancers and was associated with their survival, including renal and ovarian cancers.

Conclusions: Low CCBL2 expression is a promising poor BC survival independent prognostic marker.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Carbon-Sulfur Lyases
  • Estrogens
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Prognosis
  • Receptors, Chemokine / metabolism*


  • ACKR2 protein, human
  • Estrogens
  • Receptors, Chemokine
  • Carbon-Sulfur Lyases
  • S-alkylcysteine lyase

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.