Research Paper Volume 13, Issue 7 pp 10724—10748

A novel focal adhesion related gene signature for prognostic prediction in hepatocellular carcinoma

Zhuo Lin1,2, *, , Dan Miao3, *, , Qian Xu3, , Xiaodong Wang1,2, , Fujun Yu3, ,

  • 1 Department of Hepatology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, Zhejiang, China
  • 2 Zhejiang Provincial Key Laboratory for Accurate Diagnosis and Treatment of Chronic Liver Diseases, Wenzhou, Zhejiang, China
  • 3 Department of Gastroenterology, the First Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, China
* Co-first authors

Received: December 21, 2020       Accepted: March 14, 2021       Published: April 13, 2021
How to Cite

Copyright: © 2021 Lin 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.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a highly heterogeneous disease. Reduced expression of focal adhesion is considered as an important prerequisite for tumor cell invasion and metastasis. However, the prognostic value of focal adhesion related genes in HCC remains to be further determined. In this study, RNA expression profiles were downloaded from public databases. A five focal adhesion related gene signature model was established by the least absolute shrinkage and selection operator Cox regression analysis, which categorized patients into high- and low-risk groups. Multivariate Cox regression analysis showed that the risk score was an independent predictor for overall survival. Single-sample gene set enrichment analysis revealed that immune status was different between the two risk groups, and tumor-related pathways were enriched in high-risk group. The risk score was significantly associated with tumor grade, tumor stage, immune scores, and immune infiltrate types. Pearson correlation showed that the expression level of prognostic genes was associated with anti-tumor drug sensitivity. Besides, the mRNA and protein expression of prognostic genes was significantly different between HCC tissues and adjacent non-tumorous tissues in our separate cohort. Taken together, a novel focal adhesion related gene signature can be used for prognostic prediction in HCC, which may be a therapeutic alternative.


HCC: hepatocellular carcinoma; TCGA: The Cancer Genome Atlas; ICGC: International Cancer Genome Consortium; OS: overall survival; DEGs: differentially expressed genes; LASSO: the least absolute shrinkage and selection operator; AUC: area under the curve; ssGSEA: single-sample Gene Set Enrichment Analysis; RNAss: stemness score based on mRNA expression; DNAss: stemness score based on DNA methylation; GO: Gene Ontology; KEGG: Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes; GSEA: gene set enrichment analysis; qRT-PCR: Real-time Quantitative-Polymerase Chain Reaction; ROC: receiver operating characteristic; IHC: immunohistochemistry.