BACKGROUND Colon cancer is among the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the United States with an estimated 97220 new cases expected by the end of 2018. It affects 1.2 million people around the world and is responsible for about 0.6 million deaths every year. Despite decline in overall incidence and mortality over the past 30 years, there continues to be an alarming rise in early-onset colon cancer cases (< 50 years). Patients are often diagnosed at late stages of the disease and tend to have poor survival. We previously showed that the WNT "gatekeeper" gene, secreted frizzled-related protein 4 (SFRP4), is over-expressed in early-onset colon cancer. SFRP4 is speculated to play an essential role in cancer by inhibiting the epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT). AIM To investigate the correlation between SFRP4 expression and EMT-linked genes in colon cancer and how it affects patient survival. METHODS SFRP4 expression relative to that of EMT-linked genes and survival analysis were performed using the University of California Santa Cruz Cancer Browser interface. RESULTS SFRP4 was found to be co-expressed with the EMT-linked markers CDH2, FN1, VIM, TWIST1, TWIST2, SNAI1, SNAI2, ZEB1, ZEB2, POSTN, MMP2, MMP7, MMP9, and COL1A1. SFRP4 expression negatively correlated with the EMTlinked suppressors CLDN4, CLDN7, TJP3, MUC1, and CDH1. The expression of SFRP4 and the EMT-linked markers was higher in mesenchymal-like samples compared to epithelial-like samples which potentially implicates SFRP4-EMT mechanism in colon cancer. Additionally, patients overexpressing SFRP4 presented with poor overall survival (P = 0.0293). CONCLUSION Considering the implication of SFRP4 in early-onset colon cancer, particularly in the context of EMT, tumor metastasis, and invasion, and the effect of increased expression on colon cancer patient survival, SFRP4 might be a potential biomarker for early-onset colon cancer that could be targeted for diagnosis and/or disease therapy.
- Colon cancer
- Epithelial mesenchymal transition
- Secreted frizzled-related protein 4
ASJC Scopus subject areas