Astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1), upregulated in various types of human cancers, has been reported to be associated with the carcinogenesis of human cancer. However, the functional significance of AEG-1 in human esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) remains unknown. In the present study, we showed the expression of AEG-1 was markedly upregulated in esophageal cancer cell lines and surgical ESCC specimens at both transcriptional and translational levels. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that 80 of 168 (47.6%) paraffin-embedded archival ESCC specimens exhibited high levels of AEG-1 expression. Statistical analysis suggested the upregulation of AEG-1 was significantly correlated with the clinical staging of the ESCC patients (P = 0.001), T classification (P = 0.002), N classification (P = 0.034), M classification (P = 0.021) and histological differentiation (P = 0.035) and those patients with high AEG-1 levels exhibited shorter survival time (P < 0.001). Multivariate analysis indicated that AEG-1 expression might be an independent prognostic indicator of the survival of patients with ESCC. Furthermore, we found that ectopic expression of AEG-1 in ESCC cells could significantly enhance cell proliferation and anchorage-independent growth ability. Conversely, silencing AEG-1 by short hairpin RNAi caused an inhibition of cell growth and anchorage-independent growth ability on soft agar. Moreover, we demonstrated that the upregulation of AEG-1 could reduce the expression of p27Kip1 and induce the expression of cyclin D1 through the AKT/FOXO3a pathway. Our findings suggest that the AEG-1 protein is a valuable marker of ESCC progression and that the upregulation of AEG-1 plays an important role in the development and pathogenesis of human ESCC.
Journal Article. 5214 words. Illustrated.
Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics
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