Clinical and functional significance of CHK1-S, an alternatively spliced isoform of the CHK1 gene, in hepatocellular carcinoma
Alternative splicing plays critical roles in many disease processes and splicing dysregulation is a hallmark of cancer. The different splicing isoforms may have significantly different effects on the malignant progression of cancer. Checkpoint kinase 1 (CHK1) is a serine/threonine kinase and regulates DNA damage response. In this study, we measured the expression of an alternative CHK1 transcript (CHK1-S, excluded exon 3) in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) tissues. Our results showed that CHK1-S was significantly upregulated in HCC tissues compared with paired adjacent noncancerous hepatic tissues. The levels of full-length CHK1(CHK1-L), CHK1-S and the ratio of CHK1-S/L in tumor tissue were associated with relapse free survival (RFS) of postoperative HCC patients, respectively, but not the levels of CHK1-L, CHK1-S and the ratio of CHK1-S/L in adjacent normal tissue. To further demonstrate the role of CHK1-S in HCC, CCK-8 assays, EdU incorporation assays and colony formation assays were used. The results showed that overexpression of CHK1-S significantly accelerated HCC cell proliferation, compared with CHK1-L. In addition, we found that serine-arginine protein kinase 1 (SRPK1), as an upstream regulator kinase of splicing factor, could upregulate the expression of CHK1-S and its expression level was significantly higher in HCC tumors than the paired normal tissues and was associated with the levels of CHK1-S (P=0.016). In conclusion, our study demonstrated that CHK1-S, acts as an oncogene, which was upregulated and associated with RFS in HCC patients. SRPK1 may mediate its mRNA splicing in HCC. All these data indicated that the expression of CHK1-S would have potential prognostic values and splicing kinase SRPK1 might be developed as therapeutic target in HCC.
Keywords: CHK1; CHK1-S; HCC; RFS; SRPK1.