Telomere-related gene risk model for prognosis and drug treatment efficiency prediction in kidney cancer

Front Immunol. 2022 Sep 16:13:975057. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2022.975057. eCollection 2022.


Kidney cancer is one of the most common urological cancers worldwide, and kidney renal clear cell cancer (KIRC) is the major histologic subtype. Our previous study found that von-Hippel Lindau (VHL) gene mutation, the dominant reason for sporadic KIRC and hereditary kidney cancer-VHL syndrome, could affect VHL disease-related cancers development by inducing telomere shortening. However, the prognosis role of telomere-related genes in kidney cancer has not been well discussed. In this study, we obtained the telomere-related genes (TRGs) from TelNet. We obtained the clinical information and TRGs expression status of kidney cancer patients in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database, The International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) database, and the Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium (CPTAC) database. Totally 353 TRGs were differential between tumor and normal tissues in the TCGA-KIRC dataset. The total TCGA cohort was divided into discovery and validation TCGA cohorts and then using univariate cox regression, lasso regression, and multivariate cox regression method to conduct data analysis sequentially, ten TRGs (ISG15, RFC2, TRIM15, NEK6, PRKCQ, ATP1A1, ELOVL3, TUBB2B, PLCL1, NR1H3) risk model had been constructed finally. The kidney patients in the high TRGs risk group represented a worse outcome in the discovery TCGA cohort (p<0.001), and the result was validated by these four cohorts (validation TCGA cohort, total TCGA cohort, ICGC cohort, and CPTAC cohort). In addition, the TRGs risk score is an independent risk factor for kidney cancer in all these five cohorts. And the high TRGs risk group correlated with worse immune subtypes and higher tumor mutation burden in cancer tissues. In addition, the high TRGs risk group might benefit from receiving immune checkpoint inhibitors and targeted therapy agents. Moreover, the proteins NEK6, RF2, and ISG15 were upregulated in tumors both at the RNA and protein levels, while PLCL1 and PRKCQ were downregulated. The other five genes may display the contrary expression status at the RNA and protein levels. In conclusion, we have constructed a telomere-related genes risk model for predicting the outcomes of kidney cancer patients, and the model may be helpful in selecting treatment agents for kidney cancer patients.

Keywords: immuno therapy; kidney cancer; prognosis; telomere; tumor mutation burden.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / pathology
  • NIMA-Related Kinases / genetics
  • Prognosis
  • Protein Kinase C-theta / genetics
  • Proteomics
  • RNA
  • Risk Factors
  • Telomere / genetics


  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors
  • RNA
  • NEK6 protein, human
  • NIMA-Related Kinases
  • Protein Kinase C-theta