High VSX1 expression promotes the aggressiveness of clear cell renal cell carcinoma by transcriptionally regulating FKBP10

J Transl Med. 2022 Dec 3;20(1):554. doi: 10.1186/s12967-022-03772-2.


Background: Clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC), the most common urological malignancy, has an unfavorable prognosis and an unknown mechanism of progression. Through survival analyses screening of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) dataset, we identified Visual system homeobox1 (VSX1) as a novel potential prognostic biomarker in ccRCC and subsequently investigated the oncogenic role of VSX1 in ccRCC.

Methods: The differential expression of VSX1 in human tumors and the clinical prognoses were analyzed in the TCGA dataset and Gene Expression Omnibus. Spearman's correlation coefficient was determined for the correlation analysis of VSX1 expression and other genes of interest. The roles of VSX1 in cell proliferation, invasion, and migration of ccRCC cells were evaluated via the CCK-8 assay, colony formation assay, and Transwell assay, respectively. Further results were demonstrated by western blotting, immunohistochemistry, qRT-PCR, tumor sphere formation, flow cytometry, and the dual‑luciferase reporter assay.

Results: VSX1 mRNA upregulation was generally observed in multiple human malignancies from the TCGA database and was confirmed in ccRCC clinical specimens from our department. High VSX1 expression usually indicated that overall and disease-free survival were unfavorable for patients with ccRCC. In terms of mechanism, knockdown or overexpression of VSX1 affected ccRCC aggressiveness in vitro. The dual-luciferase reporter gene assay implied that VSX1 overexpression significantly increased the luciferase activity of TMEM44, FKBP10, and TRIB3, which indicated that VSX1 promoted ccRCC invasiveness via transcriptional regulation of these genes. The significantly enhanced growth in vitro that was induced by stable VSX1 overexpression was almost restored to normal by the knockdown of FKBP10.

Conclusions: This study demonstrated that VSX1 was a novel prognostic biomarker in ccRCC and that high VSX1 expression promoted cell proliferation, invasion, and migration in ccRCC via transcriptional activation of downstream target genes.

Keywords: Clear cell renal cell carcinoma; Invasion; Migration; Transcriptional regulation; VSX1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / genetics
  • Gene Expression
  • Homeodomain Proteins* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Oncogenes
  • Prognosis
  • Tacrolimus Binding Proteins* / genetics


  • Biomarkers
  • FKBP10 protein, human
  • Tacrolimus Binding Proteins
  • VSX1 protein, human
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Biomarkers, Tumor