Oncology letters

Overexpression of RHEB is associated with metastasis and poor prognosis in hepatocellular carcinoma.

PMID 29467900


Aberrant expression of Ras homolog enriched in brain (RHEB) has been observed in a variety of cancer tissues and is closely associated with clinicopathological features. However, the expression profile of RHEB in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and its clinical signature with underlying mechanisms have not been explored thus far. To analyze the association between RHEB expression and clinicopathological features, the RHEB expression levels were determined in the present study using gene microarrays, immunohistochemistry and western blotting in 60 liver cancer tissues and 35 normal liver tissues. Downregulation of RHEB expression in liver cancer cell lines was achieved by RNA interfering technology to explore its biological function in HCC. RHEB expression was high in liver cancer tissues, with an increase of 2.00±0.19-fold compared with normal tissues and of 2.00±0.27-fold compared with adjacent non-cancer tissues. RHEB expression increased along with the clinical staging of HCC, and the overall survival and mortality of patients were closely correlated to RHEB levels, micro-vascular invasion, hepatitis B virus-DNA titer, tumor differentiation and pathological satellites (P<0.05). After knocking down RHEB in SMMC-7721 cells, the growth of liver cancer cells was significantly reduced. The majority of cells were blocked in S-phase, and their colony-forming and proliferating abilities significantly decreased (P<0.05). In vivo, upon downregulation of RHEB expression, the tumorigenic ability of HCC significantly decreased (P<0.05). These data suggest that RHEB expression is a significant prognostic factor and may be important in HCC cell growth. The present study highlights the importance of RHEB as a novel prognostic marker of HCC.