Stress-induced phosphoprotein 1 mediates hepatocellular carcinoma metastasis after insufficient radiofrequency ablation

Tianhong Su, Junbin Liao, Zihao Dai, Lixia Xu, Shuling Chen, Yifei Wang, Zhenwei Peng, Qiuyang Zhang, Sui Peng, Ming Kuang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Recent studies indicated that insufficient radiofrequency ablation (RFA) could endow hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with higher aggressive potential. Stress-induced phosphoprotein 1 (STIP1), which was found highly expressed in HCC, is a chaperone molecule mediating cell homeostasis under thermal stress. We aimed to explore the role of STIP1 on the metastasis of residual HCC after RFA. Mice model with orthotopic HCC implants or caudal vein injection were employed to assess potential of lung metastasis and/or intrahepatic metastasis (IHM) of HCC cells. Cell culture model was used to determine cell invasion, mesenchymal marker genes expression, and underlying molecular mechanisms. Clinical specimens were collected to analyze the relationship between STIP1 and clinical outcome. We found that insufficient RFA elicited more IHM of HCCLM3 tumors, which could be reduced by silencing STIP1. Knockdown of STIP1 also significantly decreased lung metastatic potential of HCCLM3 cells. In vitro, HCCLM3 and HepG2 displayed a spindle-shaped morphology with upregulation of STIP1 and mesenchymal markers after sublethal heat exposure. Mechanistically, heat exposure induced the formation of STIP1-heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) complex, which could shuttle epithelial transcription repressor Snail1 into nucleus and regulate mesenchymal gene transcription. Blocking the HSP90-STIP1 complex reduced the invasive potential of HCC cells after heat exposure. Using clinical specimen, we found that STIP1 was expressed significantly higher in metastatic tumor tissues and in sera from metastatic HCC patients (p < 0.05). The high expression of STIP1 was significantly linked to shorter recurrence-free survival (p < 0.05). To sum up, our study found that STIP1 is positively associated with the sublethal heat-induced cancer cell metastasis through mediating the mesenchymal gene transcription. Blocking STIP1 activity may suppress HCC cell metastatic potential after RFA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3514-3527
Number of pages14
Issue number26
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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