Gene Summary

Gene:VCAN; versican
Summary:This gene is a member of the aggrecan/versican proteoglycan family. The protein encoded is a large chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan and is a major component of the extracellular matrix. This protein is involved in cell adhesion, proliferation, proliferation, migration and angiogenesis and plays a central role in tissue morphogenesis and maintenance. Mutations in this gene are the cause of Wagner syndrome type 1. Multiple transcript variants encoding different isoforms have been found for this gene. [provided by RefSeq, Aug 2009]
Databases:OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:versican core protein
Source:NCBIAccessed: 01 September, 2019


What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1994-2019)
Graph generated 01 September 2019 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

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Tag cloud generated 01 September, 2019 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (6)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: VCAN (cancer-related)

Zhang Q, Wang C, Cliby WA
Cancer-associated stroma significantly contributes to the mesenchymal subtype signature of serous ovarian cancer.
Gynecol Oncol. 2019; 152(2):368-374 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2020 Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: Mesenchymal (MES) subtype of high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) is associated with worse outcomes including survival and resectability compared with other molecular subtypes. Molecular subtypes have historically been derived from 'tumor', consisting of both cancer and stromal cells. We sought to determine the origins of multiple MES subtype gene signatures in HGSOC.
METHODS: Fifteen patients with MES subtype of HGSOC diagnosed between 2010 and 2013 were identified. Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) blocks from primary surgery were sectioned for immunohistochemistry (IHC) staining of relevant proteins. Eight genes (ACTA2, COL5A1, COL11A1, FAP, POSTN, VCAN, ZEB1 and p-SMAD2) were selected for IHC staining based on their differential expression in MES vs. non-MES subtypes of HGSOC. Slides were scored for intensity and localization and simple statistics were used to compare expression results in cancer vs. stroma and between primary and metastatic sites.
RESULTS: COL5A1, VCAN, FAP, and ZEB1 proteins were almost exclusively expressed by stroma as opposed to cancer cells. In addition, stromal expression was dominant for ACTA2, COL11A1, POSTN and p-SMAD2. In general there were minimal differences in expression of proteins between primary and metastatic sites, exceptions being COL5A1 (reduced in metastases) and COL11A1 (increased in metastases). Nuclear p-SMAD2 expression was more common in metastatic stroma.
CONCLUSIONS: The existing molecular classification of HGSOC MES subtype reflects a significant stromal contribution, suggesting an important role in HGSOC behavior and thus stroma may be a relevant therapeutic target. Specific patterns of expression indicate that collagens and TGF-β signaling are involved in the metastatic process.

Pires KSN, Sun SY, Gonçalves CM, et al.
Versican silencing in BeWo cells and its implication in gestational trophoblastic diseases.
Histochem Cell Biol. 2019; 151(4):305-313 [PubMed] Related Publications
Versican is a proteoglycan known to interact with cells to influence their ability to proliferate, differentiate, migrate, invade and assemble extracellular matrix, with all of these cell functions present during placentation. In the placenta, cytotrophoblast cells have the ability to differentiate into the syncytiotrophoblast, a mechanism that is greatly increased in gestational trophoblastic diseases (GTD). Nevertheless, the molecular signaling underlying the increased syncytiotrophoblast differentiation are still being unveiled and may result in novel therapeutic targets for GTD. Versican expression was investigated to establish its differential expression among GTD (partial moles, complete moles, invasive moles and choriocarcinoma) and the possible functional outcomes from versican gene silencing. Tissue samples had their versican expression evaluated using immunohistochemistry and RT-PCR. BeWo cells were employed for versican silencing with siRNA and the efficiency was confirmed by RT-PCR, immunofluorescence and flow cytometry. Cell death and forskolin-induced syncytialization were analyzed by a morphological analysis and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) production using immunofluorescence. Versican V0 and V1 isoforms were mainly expressed in the syncytiotrophoblast and they were the most expressed in benign rather than in malignant tumors. BeWo cells also expressed V0 and V1 isoforms, but only in cells undergoing syncytial fusion. After versican silencing, cell death was greatly increased, whereas spontaneous and forskolin-induced syncytialization decreased as well as hCG production. Versican is differentially expressed in GTD and is important for hydatidiform moles pathophysiology, protecting trophoblast cells from death and playing a role in their differentiation and functionality.

Song J, Wu S, Xia X, et al.
Cell adhesion-related gene somatic mutations are enriched in aggressive papillary thyroid microcarcinomas.
J Transl Med. 2018; 16(1):269 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2020 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Approximately half of the documented increases in differentiated thyroid carcinoma is due to identification of papillary thyroid microcarcinomas (PTMCs). Knowing whether PTMC is aggressive is required for proper treatment, but until now, there has been no method for assessing these traits and understanding the underlying mechanisms for aggressiveness.
METHODS: We performed whole-exome sequencing of 16 PTMCs and matched normal thyroid tissues and GO/KEGG analysis to study genetic alterations and biological consequences associated with aggressive PTMCs, and then sequenced these genes using a next-generation gene-panel approach in an additional 70 PTMC samples including aggressive (n = 50) and non-aggressive (n = 20) groups.
RESULTS: We identified 254 somatic mutations of 234 genes, for which 178 mutations in 168 genes were found in the aggressive group, and 76 mutations in 74 genes were found in the non-aggressive group. Several recurrent mutations in BRAF, VCAN, ALDH1L1, and MUC5B were identified, and many novel but infrequent mutations in other genes were also found. The aggressive cohort had more mutational burdens than the non-aggressive group (P = 0.004). Nonsynonymous mutations of 13 genes (MUC5B, TNN, SSPO, PPFIA1, PCDHGA2, ITGA8, ITGA4, DCHS1, CRNN, ROCK1, RELN, LAMC2, and AEBP1) were involved in cell adhesion, and these were only present in the aggressive group. Targeted sequencing of these genes revealed significant enrichment in the aggressive group (P = 0.000004).
CONCLUSION: PTC may have evolved from PTMC due to sharing similar gene mutations, and the accumulation of such mutations promoted the aggressiveness of PTMC. Gene mutants associated with cell adhesion may be used to predict PTMC aggressiveness and allow more selective treatment.

Wang Y, Su J, Fu D, et al.
The Role of YB1 in Renal Cell Carcinoma Cell Adhesion.
Int J Med Sci. 2018; 15(12):1304-1311 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2020 Related Publications

Schultz S, Bartsch H, Sotlar K, et al.
Progression-specific genes identified in microdissected formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded tissue containing matched ductal carcinoma in situ and invasive ductal breast cancers.
BMC Med Genomics. 2018; 11(1):80 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2020 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The transition from ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) to invasive breast carcinoma (IBC) is an important step during breast carcinogenesis. Understanding its molecular changes may help to identify high-risk DCIS that progress to IBC. Here, we describe a transcriptomic profiling analysis of matched formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded (FFPE) DCIS and IBC components of individual breast tumours, containing both tumour compartments. The study was performed to validate progression-associated transcripts detected in an earlier gene profiling project using fresh frozen breast cancer tissue. In addition, FFPE tissues from patients with pure DCIS (pDCIS) were analysed to identify candidate transcripts characterizing DCIS with a high or low risk of progressing to IBC.
METHODS: Fifteen laser microdissected pairs of DCIS and IBC were profiled by Illumina DASL technology and used for expression validation by qPCR. Differential expression was independently validated using further 25 laser microdissected DCIS/IBC sample pairs. Additionally, laser microdissected epithelial cells from 31 pDCIS were investigated for expression of candidate transcripts using qPCR.
RESULTS: Multiple statistical calculation methods revealed 1784 mRNAs which are differentially expressed between DCIS and IBC (P < 0.05), of which 124 have also been identified in the gene profiling project using fresh frozen breast cancer tissue. Nine mRNAs that had been selected from the gene list obtained using fresh frozen tissues by applying pathway and network analysis (MMP11, GREM1, PLEKHC1, SULF1, THBS2, CSPG2, COL10A1, COL11A1, KRT14) were investigated in tissues from the same 15 microdissected specimens and the 25 independent tissue samples by qPCR. All selected transcripts were also detected in tumour cells from pDCIS. Expression of MMP11 and COL10A1 increased significantly from pDCIS to DCIS of DCIS/IBC mixed tumours.
CONCLUSION: We confirm differential expression of progression-associated transcripts in FFPE breast cancer samples which might mediate the transition from DCIS to IBC. MMP11 and COL10A1 may characterize pure DCIS with a high risk developing IDC.

Lu Y, Li C, Chen H, Zhong W
Identification of hub genes and analysis of prognostic values in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma by integrated bioinformatics methods.
Mol Biol Rep. 2018; 45(6):1799-1807 [PubMed] Related Publications
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the most lethal cancers in the world, and more molecular mechanisms should be illuminated to meet the urgent need of developing novel detection and therapeutic strategies. We analyzed the related microarray data to find the possible hub genes and analyzed their prognostic values using bioinformatics methods. The mRNA microarray datasets GSE62452, GSE15471, GSE102238, GSE16515, and GSE62165 were finally chosen and analyzed using GEO2R. The overlapping genes were found by Venn Diagrams, functional and pathway enrichment analyses were performed using the DAVID database, and the protein-protein interaction (PPI) network was constructed by STRING and Cytoscape. OncoLnc, which was linked to TCGA survival data, was used to investigate the prognostic values. In total, 179 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were found in PDAC, among which, 130 were up-regulated genes and 49 were down-regulated. DAVID showed that the up-regulated genes were significantly enriched in extracellular matrix and structure organization, collagen catabolic and metabolic process, while the down-regulated genes were mainly involved in proteolysis, reactive oxygen species metabolic process, homeostatic process and cellular response to starvation. From the PPI network, the 21 nodes with the highest degree were screened as hub genes. Based on Molecular Complex Detection (MCODE) plug-in, the top module was formed by ALB, TGM, PLAT, PLAU, EGF, MMP7, MMP1, LAMC2, LAMA3, LAMB3, COLA1, FAP, CDH11, COL3A1, ITGA2, and VCAN. OncoLnc survival analysis showed that, high expression of ITGA2, MMP7, ITGB4, ITGA3, VCAN and PLAU may predict poor survival results in PDAC. The present study identified hub genes and pathways in PDAC, which may be potential targets for its diagnosis, treatment, and prognostic prediction.

Li T, Gao X, Han L, et al.
Identification of hub genes with prognostic values in gastric cancer by bioinformatics analysis.
World J Surg Oncol. 2018; 16(1):114 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2020 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Gastric cancer (GC) is a prevalent malignant cancer of digestive system. To identify key genes in GC, mRNA microarray GSE27342, GSE29272, and GSE33335 were downloaded from GEO database.
METHODS: Differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were obtained using GEO2R. DAVID database was used to analyze function and pathways enrichment of DEGs. Protein-protein interaction (PPI) network was established by STRING and visualized by Cytoscape software. Then, the influence of hub genes on overall survival (OS) was performed by the Kaplan-Meier plotter online tool. Module analysis of the PPI network was performed using MCODE. Additionally, potential stem loop miRNAs of hub genes were predicted by miRecords and screened by TCGA dataset. Transcription factors (TFs) of hub genes were detected by NetworkAnalyst.
RESULTS: In total, 67 DEGs were identified; upregulated DEGs were mainly enriched in biological process (BP) related to angiogenesis and extracellular matrix organization and the downregulated DEGs were mainly enriched in BP related to ion transport and response to bacterium. KEGG pathways analysis showed that the upregulated DEGs were enriched in ECM-receptor interaction and the downregulated DEGs were enriched in gastric acid secretion. A PPI network of DEGs was constructed, consisting of 43 nodes and 87 edges. Twelve genes were considered as hub genes owing to high degrees in the network. Hsa-miR-29c, hsa-miR-30c, hsa-miR-335, hsa-miR-33b, and hsa-miR-101 might play a crucial role in hub genes regulation. In addition, the transcription factors-hub genes pairs were displayed with 182 edges and 102 nodes. The high expression of 7 out of 12 hub genes was associated with worse OS, including COL4A1, VCAN, THBS2, TIMP1, COL1A2, SERPINH1, and COL6A3.
CONCLUSIONS: The miRNA and TFs regulation network of hub genes in GC may promote understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of gastric cancer and provide potential targets for GC diagnosis and treatment.

Salem M, O'Brien JA, Bernaudo S, et al.
miR-590-3p Promotes Ovarian Cancer Growth and Metastasis via a Novel FOXA2-Versican Pathway.
Cancer Res. 2018; 78(15):4175-4190 [PubMed] Related Publications
miRNAs play important roles in gene regulation, and their dysregulation is associated with many diseases, including epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC). In this study, we determined the expression and function of miR-590-3p in EOC. miR-590-3p levels were higher in high-grade carcinoma when compared with low-grade or tumors with low malignant potential. Interestingly, plasma levels of miR-590-3p were significantly higher in patients with EOC than in subjects with benign gynecologic disorders. Transient transfection of miR-590-3p mimics or stable transfection of mir-590 increased cell proliferation, migration, and invasion.

Wang A, Wu L, Lin J, et al.
Whole-exome sequencing reveals the origin and evolution of hepato-cholangiocarcinoma.
Nat Commun. 2018; 9(1):894 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2020 Related Publications
Hepatocellular-cholangiocarcinoma (H-ChC) is a rare subtype of liver cancer with clinicopathological features of both hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (iCCA). To date, molecular mechanisms underlying the co-existence of HCC and iCCA components in a single tumor remain elusive. Here, we show that H-ChC samples contain substantial private mutations from WES analyses, ranging from 33.1 to 86.4%, indicative of substantive intratumor heterogeneity (ITH). However, on the other hand, numerous ubiquitous mutations shared by HCC and iCCA suggest the monoclonal origin of H-ChC. Mutated genes identified herein, e.g., VCAN, ACVR2A, and FCGBP, are speculated to contribute to distinct differentiation of HCC and iCCA within H-ChC. Moreover, immunohistochemistry demonstrates that EpCAM is highly expressed in 80% of H-ChC, implying the stemness of such liver cancer. In summary, our data highlight the monoclonal origin and stemness of H-ChC, as well as substantial intratumoral heterogeneity.

Kwack MH, Yang JM, Won GH, et al.
Establishment and characterization of five immortalized human scalp dermal papilla cell lines.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2018; 496(2):346-351 [PubMed] Related Publications
Dermal papilla (DP) regulates the growth and cycling of hair follicles. Cultured DP cells are useful for the study of their role in relation to hair growth and regeneration. However, cultivation of human DP cells is tedious and difficult. In addition, cultured DP cells possess a relatively short replicative life span, requiring immortalized human DP cell lines. We previously established an immortalized human DP cell line, SV40T-hTERT-DPC, by introducing human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) gene into the transformed cell line, SV40T-DPC. In this study, we co-transfected the simian virus 40 large T antigen (SV40T-Ag) and hTERT into DP cells from scalp hair follicles from a male with androgenetic alopecia and established five immortalized DP cell lines and named KNU-101, KNU-102, KNU-103, KNU-201 and KNU-202. We then evaluated tumorigenicity, expression of DP markers, responses to androgen, Wnt3a and BMP4, and expression of DP signature genes. These cell lines displayed early passage morphology and maintained responses to androgen, Wnt and BMP. Furthermore, these cell lines expressed DP markers and DP signature genes. KNU cell lines established in this study are potentially useful sources for hair research.

Cox J, Malik M, Britten J, et al.
Ulipristal Acetate and Extracellular Matrix Production in Human Leiomyomas In Vivo: A Laboratory Analysis of a Randomized Placebo Controlled Trial.
Reprod Sci. 2018; 25(2):198-206 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2020 Related Publications
In a prior randomized controlled study, patients treated with ulipristal acetate (UPA) or placebo for 3 months had a decrease in leiomyoma size. A total of 10 patients' tissue samples (5 placebo and 5 treated with 10 mg/d UPA) that underwent hysterectomy and tissue preservation were identified from this study. Quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and Western blotting were used to assess fold gene and protein expression of extracellular membrane (ECM) proteins: collagen 1A (COL1A), fibronectin (FN1), and versican (VCAN) of the samples. Confirmatory immunohistochemical analysis was performed. Changes in total matrix collagen were examined using Masson trichrome staining. Multiplex measurement of the matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases was performed. Compared to placebo-treated surgical specimens, 80% of the treated specimens showed decrease in VCAN protein, 60% showed decrease in FN1, but no consistent alteration in COL1A. This effect was also supported by immunohistochemistry where leiomyoma surgical specimens demonstrated decreased amount of FN1 and VCAN on UPA treatment. Increased MMP2 and decreased MMP9 in treated patient leiomyomas indicate both degradation of the matrix and inhibition of the pathway involved in matrix production. Treatment with UPA decreased fibroid volume in placebo-controlled, randomized trials. Treatment with UPA decreased gene expression and protein production in leiomyoma tissue, suggesting both an impact on water content and ECM protein concentration as a mechanism of ulipristal-mediated decrease in leiomyoma size.

Zhao X, Sun Z, Li H, et al.
MiR-135a-5p modulates biological functions of thyroid carcinoma cells via targeting VCAN 3'-UTR.
Cancer Biomark. 2017; 20(2):207-216 [PubMed] Related Publications
Thyroid carcinoma is one of the most frequent malignant tumors of the endocrine system, which accounts for nearly 1% population in newly diagnosed carcinoma worldwide and the incidence has an increasing tendency in recent years. To explore whether miR-135a-5p could affect the proliferation, invasion and migration of thyroid carcinoma cells by targeting VCAN. The expression levels of miR-135a-5p and VCAN were detected in human thyroid carcinoma tissues and cells, para-carcinoma tissues, as well as human normal thyroid cells using RT-qPCR and Western blot. In addition, dual-luciferase reporter gene assay, MTT assay, colony formation assay, wound healing assay, Transwell assay, flow cytometry analysis and in vivo tumorigenesis assay were also conducted. The results demonstrated that miR-135a-5p was down-regulated while VCAN was up-regulated both in thyroid carcinoma tissues and cells. Furthermore, the up-regulation of miR-135a-5p inhibited cell proliferation, invasion and migration of thyroid carcinoma. Dual-luciferase reporter gene assay provided evidence indicating that miR-135a-5p targeted VCAN in thyroid carcinoma. MiR-135a-5p could inhibit cell proliferation, invasion and migration of thyroid carcinoma by targeting VCAN. MiR-135a-5p and VCAN might emerge as a target for the treatment of thyroid carcinoma.

Akinfenwa PY, Bond WS, Ildefonso CJ, et al.
Versican G1 domain enhances adenoviral-mediated transgene expression and can be modulated by inhibitors of the Janus kinase (JAK)/STAT and Src family kinase pathways.
J Biol Chem. 2017; 292(35):14381-14390 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2020 Related Publications
To examine the biochemical influences that may contribute to the success of gene therapy for ocular disorders, the role of versican, a vitreous component, in adenoviral-mediated transgene expression was examined. Versican is a large chondroitin sulfate-containing, hyaluronic acid-binding proteoglycan present in the extracellular matrix and in ocular vitreous body. Y79 retinoblastoma cells and CD44-negative SK-N-DZ neuroblastoma cells transduced with adenoviral vectors in the presence of versican respond with an activation of transgene expression. Proteolysis of versican generates a hyaluronan-binding G1 domain. The addition of recombinant versican G1 to SK-N-DZ cells results in a similar activation of transgene expression, and treatment with dasatinib, an inhibitor of Src family kinases, also mimics the effects of versican. Enhancement is accompanied by an increase in signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5) phosphorylation and is abrogated by treatment with C188-9, a STAT3/5 inhibitor, or with ruxolitinib, a Janus kinase 1/2 (JAK1/2) inhibitor. These data implicate versican G1 in enhancing adenoviral vector transgene expression in a hyaluronic acid-CD44 independent manner that is down-regulated by inhibitors of the JAK/STAT pathway and enhanced by inhibitors of the Src kinase pathway.

López JI, Angulo JC, Martín A, et al.
A DNA hypermethylation profile reveals new potential biomarkers for the evaluation of prognosis in urothelial bladder cancer.
APMIS. 2017; 125(9):787-796 [PubMed] Related Publications
DNA hypermethylation has emerged as a molecular biomarker for the evaluation of cancer diagnosis and prognosis. We define a methylation signature of bladder cancer and evaluate whether this profile assesses prognosis of patients. Genome-wide methylation analysis was performed on 70 tumor and 10 normal bladder samples. Hypermethylation status of 1505 CpGs present in the promoter region of 807 genes was studied. Thirty-three genes were significantly hypermethylated in ≥10% of the tumors. Three clusters of patients were characterized by their DNA methylation profile, one at higher risk of dead of disease (p = 0.0012). Association between cluster distribution and stage (p = 0.02) or grade (p = 0.02) was demonstrated. Hypermethylation of JAK3 and absence of hypermethylation of EYA4, GAT6, and SOX1 were associated with low-grade non-invasive disease. On the other hand, in high-grade invasive disease hypermethylation of CSPG2, HOXA11, HOXA9, HS3ST2, SOX1, and TWIST1 was associated with muscle invasiveness. A panel of hypermethylated genes including APC, CSPG2, EPHA5, EYA4, HOXA9, IPF1, ISL1, JAK3, PITX2, SOX1, and TWIST1 predicted cancer-specific survival and SOX1 (HR = 3.46), PITX2 (HR = 4.17), CSPG2 (HR = 5.35), and JAK3 hypermethylation (HR = 0.19) did so independently. Silencing of genes by hypermethylation is a common event in bladder cancer and could be used to develop diagnostic and prognostic markers. Combined hypermethylation of SOX1, PITX2, or CSPG2 signals patients at higher risk of death from bladder cancer.

Gueye NA, Mead TJ, Koch CD, et al.
Versican Proteolysis by ADAMTS Proteases and Its Influence on Sex Steroid Receptor Expression in Uterine Leiomyoma.
J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2017; 102(5):1631-1641 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2020 Related Publications
Context: Leiomyomas have abundant extracellular matrix (ECM), with upregulation of versican, a large proteoglycan.
Objective: We investigated ADAMTS (a disintegrin-like and metalloprotease with thrombospondin type 1 motifs) protease-mediated versican cleavage in myometrium and leiomyoma and the effect of versican knockdown in leiomyoma cells.
Design: We used quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), western blotting, immunohistochemistry, and RNA in situ hybridization for analysis of myometrium, leiomyoma and immortalized myometrium and leiomyoma cells. Short interfering RNA (siRNA) was used to knockdown versican in leiomyoma cells.
Setting: This study was performed in an academic laboratory.
Patients: Study subjects were women with symptomatic or asymptomatic leiomyoma.
Main Outcome Measures: We quantified messenger RNAs (mRNAs) for versican splice variants. We identified ADAMTS-cleaved versican in myometrium and leiomyoma and ADAMTS messenger RNAs and examined the effect of VCAN siRNA on smooth muscle differentiation and expression of estrogen and progesterone receptors.
Results: The women in the symptomatic group (n = 7) had larger leiomyoma (P = 0.01), heavy menstrual bleeding (P < 0.01), and lower hemoglobin levels (P = 0.02) compared with the asymptomatic group (n = 7), but were similar in age and menopausal status. Versican V0 and V1 isoforms were upregulated in the leiomyomas of symptomatic versus asymptomatic women (P = 0.03 and P = 0.04, respectively). Abundant cleaved versican was detected in leiomyoma and myometrium, as well as in myometrial and leiomyoma cell lines. ADAMTS4 (P = 0.03) and ADAMTS15 (P = 0.04) were upregulated in symptomatic leiomyomas. VCAN siRNA did not effect cell proliferation, apoptosis, or smooth muscle markers, but reduced ESR1 and PR-A expression (P = 0.001 and P = 0.002, respectively).
Conclusions: Versican in myometrium, leiomyomas and in the corresponding immortalized cells is cleaved by ADAMTS proteases. VCAN siRNA suppresses production of estrogen receptor 1 and progesterone receptor-A. These findings have implications for leiomyoma growth.

Li C, Singh B, Graves-Deal R, et al.
Three-dimensional culture system identifies a new mode of cetuximab resistance and disease-relevant genes in colorectal cancer.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017; 114(14):E2852-E2861 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2020 Related Publications
We previously reported that single cells from a human colorectal cancer (CRC) cell line (HCA-7) formed either hollow single-layered polarized cysts or solid spiky masses when plated in 3D in type-I collagen. To begin in-depth analyses into whether clonal cysts and spiky masses possessed divergent properties, individual colonies of each morphology were isolated and expanded. The lines thus derived faithfully retained their parental cystic and spiky morphologies and were termed CC (cystic) and SC (spiky), respectively. Although both CC and SC expressed EGF receptor (EGFR), the EGFR-neutralizing monoclonal antibody, cetuximab, strongly inhibited growth of CC, whereas SC was resistant to growth inhibition, and this was coupled to increased tyrosine phosphorylation of MET and RON. Addition of the dual MET/RON tyrosine kinase inhibitor, crizotinib, restored cetuximab sensitivity in SC. To further characterize these two lines, we performed comprehensive genomic and transcriptomic analysis of CC and SC in 3D. One of the most up-regulated genes in CC was the tumor suppressor

Mitsui Y, Shiina H, Kato T, et al.
Versican Promotes Tumor Progression, Metastasis and Predicts Poor Prognosis in Renal Carcinoma.
Mol Cancer Res. 2017; 15(7):884-895 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2020 Related Publications
The proteoglycan versican (VCAN) promotes tumor progression and enhances metastasis in several cancers; however, its role in clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) remains unknown. Recent evidence suggests that VCAN is an important target of chromosomal

Islam MS, Giampieri F, Janjusevic M, et al.
An anthocyanin rich strawberry extract induces apoptosis and ROS while decreases glycolysis and fibrosis in human uterine leiomyoma cells.
Oncotarget. 2017; 8(14):23575-23587 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2020 Related Publications
Uterine leiomyomas are highly prevalent benign tumors in reproductive aged women. Unfortunately, medical treatments are still limited and no preventive therapies have been developed. In the present study, we investigated the therapeutic effects of strawberry extract on uterine leiomyoma cells. Leiomyoma and myometrial cells were treated with strawberry (cultivar Alba) extract (250 μg/ml) for 48 h to measure apoptosis, reactive oxygen species (ROS), oxidative phosphorylation (OCR, oxygen consumption rate) and glycolysis (ECAR, extracellular acidification rate) as well as fibrosis associated gene and/or protein expression. In leiomyoma cells, strawberry increased the percentage of apoptotic and dead cells. Strawberry significantly increased ROS concentration in leiomyoma cells, while decreased it in myometrial cells. After strawberry treatment, leiomyoma cells showed a significant decreased rate of ECAR, while OCR was unchanged in both myometrial and leiomyoma cells. Strawberry significantly decreased collagen1A1, fibronectin and versican mRNA expression in leiomyoma cells. The reduced protein expression of fibronectin was observed by strawberry extract in leiomyoma cells as well. Furthermore, strawberry was able to reduce activin A induced fibronectin, collagen1A1, and versican as well as activin A and PAI-1 mRNA expression in leiomyoma cells. This study suggests that strawberry can be developed as therapeutic and/or preventive agent for uterine leiomyomas.

Hartley G, Regan D, Guth A, Dow S
Regulation of PD-L1 expression on murine tumor-associated monocytes and macrophages by locally produced TNF-α.
Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2017; 66(4):523-535 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2020 Related Publications
PD-L1 is an immune checkpoint protein that has emerged as a major signaling molecule involved with tumor escape from T cell immune responses. Studies have shown that intra-tumoral expression of PD-L1 can inhibit antitumor immune responses. However, it has recently been shown that expression of PD-L1 on myeloid cells from the tumor is a stronger indicator of prognosis than tumor cell PD-L1 expression. Therefore, it is important to understand the factors that govern the regulation of PD-L1 expression on tumor-infiltrating myeloid cells. We found that immature bone marrow monocytes in tumor-bearing mice had low levels of PD-L1 expression, while higher levels of expression were observed on monocytes in circulation. In contrast, macrophages found in tumor tissues expressed much higher levels of PD-L1 than circulating monocytes, implying upregulation by the tumor microenvironment. We demonstrated that tumor-conditioned media strongly induced increased PD-L1 expression by bone marrow-derived monocytes and TNF-α to be a cytokine that causes an upregulation of PD-L1 expression by the monocytes. Furthermore, we found production of TNF-α by the monocytes themselves to be a TLR2-dependent response to versican secreted by tumor cells. Thus, PD-L1 expression by tumor macrophages appears to be regulated in a different manner than by tumor cells themselves.

Fletcher SJ, Sacca PA, Pistone-Creydt M, et al.
Human breast adipose tissue: characterization of factors that change during tumor progression in human breast cancer.
J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2017; 36(1):26 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2020 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Adipose microenvironment is involved in signaling pathways that influence breast cancer. We aim to characterize factors that are modified: 1) in tumor and non tumor human breast epithelial cell lines when incubated with conditioned media (CMs) from human breast cancer adipose tissue explants (hATT) or normal breast adipose tissue explants (hATN); 2) in hATN-CMs vs hATT-CMs; 3) in the tumor associated adipocytes vs. non tumor associated adipocytes.
METHODS: We used hATN or hATT- CMs on tumor and non-tumor breast cancer cell lines. We evaluated changes in versican, CD44, ADAMTS1 and Adipo R1 expression on cell lines or in the different CMs. In addition we evaluated changes in the morphology and expression of these factors in slices of the different adipose tissues. The statistical significance between different experimental conditions was evaluated by one-way ANOVA. Tukey's post-hoc tests were performed within each individual treatment.
RESULTS: hATT-CMs increase versican, CD44, ADAMTS1 and Adipo R1 expression in breast cancer epithelial cells. Furthermore, hATT-CMs present higher levels of versican expression compared to hATN-CMs. In addition, we observed a loss of effect in cellular migration when we pre-incubated hATT-CMs with chondroitinase ABC, which cleaves GAGs chains bound to the versican core protein, thus losing the ability to bind to CD44. Adipocytes associated with the invasive front are reduced in size compared to adipocytes that are farther away. Also, hATT adipocytes express significantly higher amounts of versican, CD44 and Adipo R1, and significantly lower amounts of adiponectin and perilipin, unlike hATN adipocytes.
CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that hATT secrete a different set of proteins compared to hATN. Furthermore, versican, a proteoglycan that is overexpressed in hATT-CMs compared to hATN-CMs, might be involved in the tumorogenic behavior observed in both cell lines employed. In addition, we may conclude that adipocytes from the tumor microenvironment show a less differentiated state than adipocytes from normal microenvironment. This would indicate a loss of normal functions in mature adipocytes (such as energy storage), in support of others that might favor tumor growth.

Wei T, Cong X, Wang XT, et al.
Interleukin-17A promotes tongue squamous cell carcinoma metastasis through activating miR-23b/versican pathway.
Oncotarget. 2017; 8(4):6663-6680 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2020 Related Publications
Interleukin-17A (IL-17A), a proinflammatory cytokine mainly produced by T helper 17 cells, exerts protumor or antitumor effects in different cancer entities. However, the exact role of IL-17A in carcinogenesis and progression of tongue squamous cell carcinoma (TSCC) remains unclear. Here, we found that the levels of IL-17A in serum and tumor samples were significantly increased in TSCC patients and positively correlated with tumor metastasis and clinical stage. Besides, IL-17A enhanced cell migration and invasion in SCC15, a TSCC cell line. Furthermore, IL-17A inversely correlated with miR-23b expression in TSCC specimens. In vitro, NF-κB inhibited miR-23b transcription by directly binding to its promoter region. IL-17A downregulated miR-23b expression via activating NF-κB signaling pathway characterized by increasing p65 expression in the nuclear and elevating the levels of p-IKKα and p-IκBα. Overexpression of miR-23b inhibited, whereas knockdown of miR-23b promoted migration and invasion abilities of SCC15 cells. Moreover, extracellular matrix protein versican was proved to be the direct target of miR-23b through luciferase assay. IL-17A increased versican levels in vitro and knockdown of versican by siRNA inhibited SCC15 cell migration and invasion. Taken together, these results reveal a novel mechanism that IL-17A in TSCC microenvironment promotes the migration and invasion of TSCC cells through targeting miR-23b/versican pathway.

Wight TN
Provisional matrix: A role for versican and hyaluronan.
Matrix Biol. 2017; 60-61:38-56 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2020 Related Publications
Hyaluronan and versican are extracellular matrix (ECM) components that are enriched in the provisional matrices that form during the early stages of development and disease. These two molecules interact to create pericellular "coats" and "open space" that facilitate cell sorting, proliferation, migration, and survival. Such complexes also impact the recruitment of leukocytes during development and in the early stages of disease. Once thought to be inert components of the ECM that help hold cells together, it is now quite clear that they play important roles in controlling cell phenotype, shaping tissue response to injury and maintaining tissue homeostasis. Conversion of hyaluronan-/versican-enriched provisional matrix to collagen-rich matrix is a "hallmark" of tissue fibrosis. Targeting the hyaluronan and versican content of provisional matrices in a variety of diseases including, cardiovascular disease and cancer, is becoming an attractive strategy for intervention.

Visser E, Franken IA, Brosens LA, et al.
Prognostic gene expression profiling in esophageal cancer: a systematic review.
Oncotarget. 2017; 8(3):5566-5577 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2020 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Individual variability in prognosis of esophageal cancer highlights the need for advances in personalized therapy. This systematic review aimed at elucidating the prognostic role of gene expression profiles and at identifying gene signatures to predict clinical outcome.
METHODS: A systematic search of the Medline, Embase and the Cochrane library databases (2000-2015) was performed. Articles associating gene expression profiles in patients with esophageal adenocarcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma to survival, response to chemo(radio)therapy and/or lymph node metastasis were identified. Differentially expressed genes and gene signatures were extracted from each study and combined to construct a list of prognostic genes per outcome and histological tumor type.
RESULTS: This review includes a total of 22 studies. Gene expression profiles were related to survival in 9 studies, to response to chemo(radio)therapy in 7 studies, and to lymph node metastasis in 9 studies. The studies proposed many differentially expressed genes. However, the findings were heterogeneous and only 12 (ALDH1A3, ATR, BIN1, CSPG2, DOK1, IFIT1, IFIT3, MAL, PCP4, PHB, SPP1) of the 1.112 reported genes were identified in more than 1 study. Overall, 16 studies reported a prognostic gene signature, which was externally validated in 10 studies.
CONCLUSION: This systematic review shows heterogeneous findings in associating gene expression with clinical outcome in esophageal cancer. Larger validated studies employing RNA next-generation sequencing are required to establish gene expression profiles to predict clinical outcome and to select optimal personalized therapy.

Liu G, Wu K, Sheng Y
Elucidation of the molecular mechanisms of anaplastic thyroid carcinoma by integrated miRNA and mRNA analysis.
Oncol Rep. 2016; 36(5):3005-3013 [PubMed] Related Publications
To elucidate the complex molecular mechanisms of anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC), the mRNA and miRNA expression profiles of ATC were systematically explored. A total of 55 common differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were obtained from two mRNA expression datasets including 23 ATC samples and 24 paired normal samples. Gene expression levels of three randomly selected DEGs, VCAN, COL5A1 and KCNJ16, were examined using RT-PCR in 10 ATC samples. Notably, the ATC and normal samples were clearly classified into two groups based on their common DEGs. Moreover 23 common DEGs, such as TG, NKX2-1, KCNJ16 and CTHRC1, were predicted to be the potential targets of 17 identified miRNAs in ATC. Meanwhile, several miRNA target genes were associated with biological processes related to tumor progression such as angiogenesis, cell migration or growth and potassium channel regulation. In summary, the poor prognosis of ATC is possibly caused via complex biological processes. Firstly, angiogenesis was activated by the high expression of CTHRC1, VCAN and POSTN, providing necessary nutrition for tumor cells. Then tumor distant metastasis was induced via stimulation of cell migration and cell growth or regulation of cell-cell interaction. Moreover, intracellular potassium concentration changes promoted ATC progression indirectly. Hence, identification of these critical DEGs was valuable in understanding the molecular mechanisms of ATC.

Yin H, Wang Y, Chen W, et al.
Drug-resistant CXCR4-positive cells have the molecular characteristics of EMT in NSCLC.
Gene. 2016; 594(1):23-29 [PubMed] Related Publications
High expression of Chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) is important in tumor invasion, metastasis, drug-resistance and maintenance of stemness in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We therefore studied the molecular characteristics of drug-resistant CXCR4-positive cells on epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) for the future identification of the tumor cells with the properties of both EMT and stemness. EMT RT

Pinto AT, Pinto ML, Velho S, et al.
Intricate Macrophage-Colorectal Cancer Cell Communication in Response to Radiation.
PLoS One. 2016; 11(8):e0160891 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2020 Related Publications
Both cancer and tumour-associated host cells are exposed to ionizing radiation when a tumour is subjected to radiotherapy. Macrophages frequently constitute the most abundant tumour-associated immune population, playing a role in tumour progression and response to therapy. The present work aimed to evaluate the importance of macrophage-cancer cell communication in the cellular response to radiation. To address this question, we established monocultures and indirect co-cultures of human monocyte-derived macrophages with RKO or SW1463 colorectal cancer cells, which exhibit higher and lower radiation sensitivity, respectively. Mono- and co-cultures were then irradiated with 5 cumulative doses, in a similar fractionated scheme to that used during cancer patients' treatment (2 Gy/fraction/day). Our results demonstrated that macrophages sensitize RKO to radiation-induced apoptosis, while protecting SW1463 cells. Additionally, the co-culture with macrophages increased the mRNA expression of metabolism- and survival-related genes more in SW1463 than in RKO. The presence of macrophages also upregulated glucose transporter 1 expression in irradiated SW1463, but not in RKO cells. In addition, the influence of cancer cells on the expression of pro- and anti-inflammatory macrophage markers, upon radiation exposure, was also evaluated. In the presence of RKO or SW1463, irradiated macrophages exhibit higher levels of pro-inflammatory TNF, IL6, CCL2 and CCR7, and of anti-inflammatory CCL18. However, RKO cells induce an increase of macrophage pro-inflammatory IL1B, while SW1463 cells promote higher pro-inflammatory CXCL8 and CD80, and also anti-inflammatory VCAN and IL10 levels. Thus, our data demonstrated that macrophages and cancer cells mutually influence their response to radiation. Notably, conditioned medium from irradiated co-cultures increased non-irradiated RKO cell migration and invasion and did not impact on angiogenesis in a chicken embryo chorioallantoic membrane assay. Overall, the establishment of primary human macrophage-cancer cell co-cultures revealed an intricate cell communication in response to ionizing radiation, which should be considered when developing therapies adjuvant to radiotherapy.

Weng TY, Wang CY, Hung YH, et al.
Differential Expression Pattern of THBS1 and THBS2 in Lung Cancer: Clinical Outcome and a Systematic-Analysis of Microarray Databases.
PLoS One. 2016; 11(8):e0161007 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2020 Related Publications
Thrombospondin 1 and thrombospondin 2 (THBS1 and THBS2) share similar multifunctional domains, and are known to be antiangiogenic. However, the expression pattern of THBS1 and THBS2 is different, and the specific role of THBS2 in different subtypes of lung cancer remains largely unclear. To evaluate the significance of THBS1 and THBS2 in the development of lung cancer, the present study performed a microarray-based systematic-analysis to determine the transcript levels of thrombospondins and their relation to the prognosis in lung cancer. THBS1 was in general underexpressed in lung cancer; in contrast, mRNA levels of THBS2 were markedly overexpressed in a number of datasets of non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC), including lung adenocarcinoma (AC) and squamous cell carcinoma. Similar expression pattern of THBS1 and THBS2 was verified in pulmonary AC cell lines with real-time PCR analysis. The survival of lung AC patients with high THBS2 mRNA expression levels was poorer than patients with low levels of expression of THBS2. In a microarray-based analysis, genes coexpressed with THBS1 or THBS2 were determined. Pulmonary AC patients with a high expression level of sevenTSHB1-coexpressed genes (CCL5, CDH11, FYB, GZMK, LA-DQA1, PDE4DIP, and SELL) had better survival rates than those with a low expression level. Patients with a high expression of seven TSHB2-coexpressed genes (CHI3L1, COL5A2, COL11A1, FAP, MXRA5, THY1, and VCAN) had poor survival rates. Downregulation of VCAN and THBS2 with shRNA inhibited the cell proliferation in the A549 cell line. In summary, THBS1 functions as a tumor suppressor in lung adenocarcinoma. However, THBS2 may play a double-edged role in the progression of lung AC, i.e. anti-angiogenic and oncogenic function. Further study on the mechanism underlying the activity of THBS2 is warranted to have further implications for cancer diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary AC.

Chida S, Okayama H, Noda M, et al.
Stromal VCAN expression as a potential prognostic biomarker for disease recurrence in stage II-III colon cancer.
Carcinogenesis. 2016; 37(9):878-887 [PubMed] Related Publications
To develop prognostic biomarkers that can discriminate stage II-III colorectal cancer patients with high risk of postoperative recurrence, we conducted a genome-wide screening of relapse-related genes utilizing multiple microarray cohorts. Among differentially expressed genes between tumor and nontumor, we identified eight candidate genes associated with relapse in two datasets of stage II-III patients (n = 94 and 145, respectively, P < 0.05). Using datasets of laser-microdissected samples and FACS-purified cell populations, the localization of candidate genes, including COL4A2, COL4A1, VCAN and SERPINE1, were found predominantly in cancer stroma rather than epithelial components. Among those relapse-related stromal genes, VCAN mRNA, specifically expressed in cancer-associated fibroblasts, was further validated to be a prognostic factor in two additional independent datasets, consisting of 453 (P = 0.0334) and 89 (P = 0.0041) stage II-III patients. Furthermore, in our large set of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded cohort (n = 338), VCAN protein was detected exclusively in cancer stroma by immunohistochemistry, demonstrating a stepwise increase of stromal VCAN from normal tissues through stage 0 to stage IV tumors. Stromal VCAN protein was associated with shorter relapse-free survival (RFS) in stage II-III colon cancer, independent of other clinical factors by multivariate analysis (P = 0.004). Stratified analyses revealed that stromal VCAN was a strong prognostic indicator particularly in stage II colon cancer (P = 0.0029). In all five analyzed cohorts, the expression of VCAN, in transcript or protein levels, was associated with poor RFS in stage II-III patients. We conclude that VCAN is a promising biomarker to identify stage II-III patients at high risk of relapse who may benefit from intensive postoperative management.

Sluiter NR, de Cuba EM, Kwakman R, et al.
Versican and vascular endothelial growth factor expression levels in peritoneal metastases from colorectal cancer are associated with survival after cytoreductive surgery and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy.
Clin Exp Metastasis. 2016; 33(4):297-307 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2020 Related Publications
Cytoreductive surgery (CRS) and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) can increase survival of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients with peritoneal metastases (PM). This treatment is associated with high morbidity and mortality rates. Therefore, improvement of patient selection is necessary. Assuming that the clinical phenotype is dictated by biological mechanisms, biomarkers could play a crucial role in this process. Since it is unknown whether and to what extent angiogenesis influences the course of disease in patients with PM, we investigated the expression of two angiogenesis-related markers and their relation to overall survival (OS) in CRC patients after CRS and HIPEC. Clinicopathological data and tissue samples were collected from 65 CRC patients with isolated metastases to the peritoneum that underwent CRS and HIPEC. Whole tissue specimens from PM were evaluated for versican (VCAN) expression, VEGF expression and microvessel density (MVD) by immunohistochemistry. The relation between these markers and OS was assessed using univariate and multivariate analysis. Associations between VEGF expression, VCAN expression, MVD and clinicopathological data were tested. High stromal VCAN expression was associated with high MVD (p = 0.001), better resection outcome (p = 0.003) and high T-stage (p = 0.027). High epithelial VCAN expression was associated with MVD (p = 0.007) and a more complete resection (p < 0.001). In multivariate analysis, simplified peritoneal cancer index (p = 0.001), VEGF expression levels (p = 0.012), age (p = 0.030), epithelial VCAN expression levels (p = 0.042) and lymph node status (p = 0.053) were associated with OS. Concluding, VCAN and VEGF were associated with survival in CRC patients with PM after CRS and HIPEC. Independent validation in a well-defined patient cohort is required to confirm the putative prognostic role of these candidate biomarkers.

Teresa Pinto A, Laranjeiro Pinto M, Patrícia Cardoso A, et al.
Ionizing radiation modulates human macrophages towards a pro-inflammatory phenotype preserving their pro-invasive and pro-angiogenic capacities.
Sci Rep. 2016; 6:18765 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/02/2020 Related Publications
In order to improve the efficacy of conventional radiotherapy, attention has been paid to immune cells, which not only modulate cancer cell response to therapy but are also highly recruited to tumours after irradiation. Particularly, the effect of ionizing radiation on macrophages, using therapeutically relevant doses, is not well understood. To evaluate how radiotherapy affects macrophage behaviour and macrophage-mediated cancer cell activity, human monocyte derived-macrophages were subjected, for a week, to cumulative ionizing radiation doses, as used during cancer treatment (2 Gy/fraction/day). Irradiated macrophages remained viable and metabolically active, despite DNA damage. NF-kappaB transcription activation and increased Bcl-xL expression evidenced the promotion of pro-survival activity. A significant increase of pro-inflammatory macrophage markers CD80, CD86 and HLA-DR, but not CCR7, TNF and IL1B was observed after 10 Gy cumulative doses, while anti-inflammatory markers CD163, MRC1, VCAN and IL-10 expression decreased, suggesting the modulation towards a more pro-inflammatory phenotype. Moreover, ionizing radiation induced macrophage morphological alterations and increased their phagocytic rate, without affecting matrix metalloproteases (MMP)2 and MMP9 activity. Importantly, irradiated macrophages promoted cancer cell-invasion and cancer cell-induced angiogenesis. Our work highlights macrophage ability to sustain cancer cell activities as a major concern that needs to be addressed to improve radiotherapy efficacy.

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