Abstract

The chromatin remodeling complex SWI/SNF regulates the accessibility of target genes to transcription factors and plays a critical role in the tumorigenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The SWI/SNF complex is assembled from approximately 15 subunits, and most of these subunits have distinct roles and are often aberrantly expressed in HCC. A comprehensive exploration of the expression and clinical significance of these subunits would be of great value. In the present study, we obtained the gene expression profile of each SWI/SNF subunit and the corresponding clinical information from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). We found that 14 out of the 15 SWI/SNF subunits were significantly increased in HCC tissues compared with paired normal liver tissues, and 11 subunits were significantly associated with overall survival (OS). We identified a four-gene prognostic signature including actin-like 6A (ACTL6A), AT-rich interaction domain 1A (ARID1A), SWI/SNF related, matrix associated, actin dependent regulator of chromatin subfamily C member 1 (SMARCC1) and SWI/SNF related, matrix associated, actin dependent regulator of chromatin, subfamily D, member 1 (SMARCD1) that could effectively predict OS in HCC patients. Among the genes, SMARCD1 has the most prognostic value. We further conducted in vitro and in vivo experiments and revealed that SMARCD1 promotes liver cancer growth by activating the mTOR signaling pathway. In conclusion, our study has revealed that the expression of SWI/SNF complex subunits, especially SMARCD1, is highly associated with HCC development and acts as a promising prognostic predictor.

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