Abstract

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.