Abstract

Semaphorin 4C (SEMA4C), is an important regulator of axonal guidance and aggravates tumor development. However, the roles and prognostic value of SEMA4C in colorectal cancer (CRC) remain unclear. Here, bioinformatics analyses of transcriptome data from multiple CRC patient datasets and immunohistochemical staining of a CRC tissue microarray (TMA) (n=83) showed that SEMA4C mRNA and protein expression were higher in CRC tissues than normal colorectal tissues. SEMA4C mRNA and protein expression correlated with pathologic stage and metastasis in CRC patients. Higher SEMA4C expression was associated with shorter overall survival, consensus molecular subtype 4 (CMS4), and DNA hypomethylation of SEMA4C in CRC patients. Multivariate Cox regression analyses revealed that SEMA4C expression was an independent prognostic predictor in CRC patients. Gene set expression analysis (GSEA) illustrated that SEMA4C expression had remarkable correlations with epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) as well as hedgehog, Wnt/β-catenin, TGF-β, and Notch signaling pathways. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis demonstrated that SEMA4C expression accurately distinguished between the CMS4 and CMS1-3 subtypes of CRC patients. By inhibiting EMT, SEMA4C silencing reduced in vitro proliferation, migration, and invasion by CRC cells. These findings suggest that SEMA4C is a CMS4-associated gene that enhances CRC progression by inducing EMT.