Background: Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is critical for cancer cell metastasis. Recently, EMT was reported to be associated with the inflammatory tumour microenvironment and, therefore, might be a predictive biomarker for immune checkpoint blockade agents. However, the underlying mechanism is still unclear. Methods: Patient survival data for our HCC cohort, TCGA and GEO datasets were determined by Kaplan-Meier analysis. The functional roles of ELMO1 in HCC were demonstrated by a series of in vitro and in vivo experiments. Gene microarray analysis was used to demonstrate potential mechanisms of ELMO1. Data retrieved from the TCGA datasets were used to determine the relationships of ELMO1, EMT and TMB. Findings: Here, we report an indispensable role for ELMO1 in linking EMT with tumour mutation burden (TMB), which is a promising biomarker for the immune checkpoint blockade agent response. Upregulated ELMO1 expression is associated with a poor prognosis in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), as well as increased cell growth, invasion, migration, angiogenesis and EMT in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, we provide evidence that ELMO1 regulates SOX10 expression and induces EMT through PI3K/Akt signalling. Moreover, ELMO1 is negatively associated with TMB, indicating a negative relationship between EMT and TMB. Interpretation: ELMO1 serves as a link between EMT and TMB, providing a mechanistic basis for the further development of ELMO1 as a therapeutic target against HCC and potentially a promising biomarker of the immune checkpoint blockade agent response. Fund: National Natural Science Foundation of China; Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province; Young Teacher Training Program of Sun Yat-sen University; Science and Technology Plan of Guangdong Province; Special Support Program of Guangdong Province, Science and Technology Innovation Youth Talent Support Program; the Pearl River Science and Technology New Talent of Guangzhou City; Medical Scientific Research Foundation of Guangdong Province.
Peng, H., Zhang, Y., Zhou, Z., Guo, Y., Huang, X., Westover, K. D., … Shen, S. (2019). Intergrated analysis of ELMO1, serves as a link between tumour mutation burden and epithelial-mesenchymal transition in hepatocellular carcinoma. EBioMedicine, 46, 105–118. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ebiom.2019.07.002