Upregulation of microfibrillar‑associated protein 2 is closely associated with tumor angiogenesis and poor prognosis in hepatocellular carcinoma
- Nu Zhang
- Feng Shao
- Weidong Jia
Affiliations: Department of General Surgery, Anhui Provincial Hospital, Cheeloo College of Medicine, Shandong University, Jinan, Shandong 250021, P.R. China
- Published online on: August 16, 2021 https://doi.org/10.3892/ol.2021.13000
Copyright: © Zhang
et al. This is an open access article distributed under the
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Abnormal expression of microfibrillar‑associated protein 2 (MFAP2), a key regulator of cellular differentiation, affects the occurrence and progression of tumors. However, the underlying role of MAFP2 in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains unclear. In the present study, patterns of MFAP2 expression in HCC were analyzed using sequencing data from The Cancer Genome Atlas database. Expression profiles of MFAP2, as well as those of epithelial‑mesenchymal transition (EMT)‑related proteins, were compared between HCC pathological sections and fresh tissues. Thereafter, associations between patterns of MFAP2 expression and the clinicopathological characteristics of patients, and identified risk factors associated with disease‑free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS), were determined. The functions of MFAP2 in the EMT‑induced proliferation and migration of MHCC97H cells were investigated using in vitro experiments, and the effects of MFAP2 on vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA)‑induced tumor angiogenesis were also investigated. Upregulation of MFAP2 expression was observed in HCC, and was often accompanied by the abnormal expression of EMT‑related marker proteins. In addition, analysis of clinical data from 94 patients with tumor tissues revealed a significant positive correlation between MFAP2 expression and low DFS and low OS following surgery. Through in vitro experimentation, silencing MFAP2 expression was shown inhibit EMT, which thereby inhibited cellular proliferation and migration. Moreover, downregulation of MFAP2 inhibited tumor angiogenesis via the inhibition of VEGFA. Taken together, these findings indicate that MFAP2 has the potential to predict the prognosis of patients with HCC. MFAP2 also induces tumor cell proliferation and migration through EMT, and promotes tumor blood vessel formation through VEGFA, suggesting that MFAP2 may be a potential therapeutic target for HCC.