Research Paper Volume 11, Issue 19 pp 8169—8182

KCNK levels are prognostic and diagnostic markers for hepatocellular carcinoma

Wen-Chao Li 1, *, , Zhi-Yong Xiong 1, *, , Pin-Zhu Huang 2, *, , Yang-Jing Liao 3, , Quan-Xi Li 4, , Zhi-Cheng Yao 1, , Ya-Di Liao 5, , Shi-Lei Xu 1, , Hui Zhou 1, , Qing-Liang Wang 1, , He Huang 1, , Peng Zhang 1, , Ji-Zong Lin 1, , Bo Liu 1, , Jie Ren 6, , Kun-Peng Hu 1, ,

  • 1 Department of General Surgery, The Third Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China
  • 2 Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Colorectal and Pelvic Floor Diseases, The Sixth Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China
  • 3 Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, The Third Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China
  • 4 Department of Radiology, The Third Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China
  • 5 State Key Laboratory of Oncology in South China, Collaborative Innovation Center for Cancer Medicine, Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center, Guangzhou, China
  • 6 Department of Ultrasound, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China
* Equal contribution

received: March 8, 2019 ; accepted: September 21, 2019 ; published: October 2, 2019 ;
How to Cite

Copyright © 2019 Li et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Two-pore-domain (KCNK, K2P) K+ channels are transmembrane protein complexes that control the flow of ions across biofilms, which underlie many essential cellular functions. Because KCNK family members are known to contribute to tumorigenesis in various types of cancer, we hypothesized that they might be differentially expressed in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells as compared to healthy tissue and serve as diagnostic or prognostic biomarkers. We tested this hypothesis through bioinformatic analyses of publicly available data for the expression of various KCNK subunits in HCC. We observed reduced expression of KCNK2, KCNK15, and KCNK17 in liver cancer, as well as overexpression of KCNK9, all of which correlated with a better prognosis for HCC patients per survival analyses. Moreover, ROC curves indicated that KCNK2, KCNK9, KCNK15, and KCNK17 levels could be used as a diagnostic biomarker for HCC. Finally, our western blot and qRT-PCR results were consistent with those obtained from bioinformatic analyses. Taken together, these results suggest that KCNK2, KCNK9, KCNK15, and KCNK17 could serve as potential diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers of HCC.


HCC: hepatocellular carcinoma; KCNK: Two-pore-domain K+ channels; TCGA: cancer genome atlas; UCSC Xena: University of California Santa Cruz Xena; OS: overall survival; ROC: receiver operating characteristic curve; GO: gene ontology; KEGG: Kyoto encyclopedia of genes and genomes.