Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is responsible for a third of the estimated cancer-caused deaths worldwide. To deeply understand the mechanisms controlling HCC progression is of primary importance to develop new approaches for treatment. Apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease-1/redox effector factor 1 (APE/Ref-1) has been uncovered elevated in various types of cancer, including HCC. Additionally, HCC progression is always correlated with elevated copper (Cu). Our previous data demonstrated that Cu treatment initiated APE/Ref-1 expression and its downstream targets. Therefore, we hypothesized that APE/Ref-1 may be involved in HCC progression through mediating the effect of Cu to its signaling cascades. Following different treatments, human HCC cell line (Hep3B) and immortalized non-malignant hepatocyte cell line (THLE3) were analyzed to explore the role of APE/Ref-1 signaling pathway. Unstained human tissue microarrays (TMA) were subjected to IHC analysis to study the relationship between APE/Ref-1 expression and clinic features. APE/Ref-1 was upregulated in HCC cells consistent with the strong expression of APE/Ref-1 in HCC tissue microarray. Greater cytoplasmic accumulation of APE/Ref-1 was found in poorly differentiated and more aggressive tumors. Also we provide evidence to show that APE/Ref-1 signaling pathway stimulates cellular proliferation, enhances anti-apoptosis, and facilitates metastasis through experimental knockdown of APE/Ref-1 using siRNA in Hep3B cells or overexpressing APE/Ref-1 in THLE3 cells. These results define a novel role of APE/Ref-1 in HCC progression as being an important mediating and potentiating molecule, and also provide a basis for further investigations utilizing appropriate APE/Ref-1 inhibitors in combination with chemo-drugs for HCC treatment.
Yang Z, Yang S, Misner B, Liu F, and Meyskens FL. Role of APE/Ref-1 in Hepatocellular Carcinoma Progression. Int J Oncol. 2014;45(5):1820-1828. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2014.2589