Zheng, W., Li, Z., Nguyen, A.T., Li, C., Emelyanov, A., Gong, Z. (2014) Xmrk, kras and myc transgenic zebrafish liver cancer models share molecular signatures with subsets of human hepatocellular carcinoma. PLoS One. 9:e91179.
Previously three oncogene transgenic zebrafish lines with inducible expression of xmrk, kras or Myc in the liver have been generated and these transgenic lines develop oncogene-addicted liver tumors upon chemical induction. In the current study, comparative transcriptomic approaches were used to examine the correlation of the three induced transgenic liver cancers with human liver cancers. RNA profiles from the three zebrafish tumors indicated relatively small overlaps of significantly deregulated genes and biological pathways. Nevertheless, the three transgenic tumor signatures all showed significant correlation with advanced or very advanced human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Interestingly, molecular signature from each oncogene-induced zebrafish liver tumor correlated with only a small subset of human HCC samples (24-29%) and there were conserved up-regulated pathways between the zebrafish and correlated human HCC subgroup. The three zebrafish liver cancer models together represented nearly half (47.2%) of human HCCs while some human HCCs showed significant correlation with more than one signature defined from the three oncogene-addicted zebrafish tumors. In contrast, commonly deregulated genes (21 up and 16 down) in the three zebrafish tumor models generally showed accordant deregulation in the majority of human HCCs, suggesting that these genes might be more consistently deregulated in a broad range of human HCCs with different molecular mechanisms and thus serve as common diagnosis markers and therapeutic targets. Thus, these transgenic zebrafish models with well-defined oncogene-induced tumors are valuable tools for molecular classification of human HCCs and for understanding of molecular drivers in hepatocarcinogenesis in each human HCC subgroup.