American Association for Cancer Research

Data from Infiltrative Vessel Co-optive Growth Pattern Induced by IQGAP3 Overexpression Promotes Microvascular Invasion in Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Posted on 2024-05-15 - 07:23

Microvascular invasion (MVI) is a major unfavorable prognostic factor for intrahepatic metastasis and postoperative recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, the intervention and preoperative prediction for MVI remain clinical challenges due to the absent precise mechanism and molecular marker(s). Herein, we aimed to investigate the mechanisms underlying vascular invasion that can be applied to clinical intervention for MVI in HCC.

Experimental Design:

The histopathologic characteristics of clinical MVI+/HCC specimens were analyzed using multiplex immunofluorescence staining. The liver orthotopic xenograft mouse model and mechanistic experiments on human patient-derived HCC cell lines, including coculture modeling, RNA-sequencing, and proteomic analysis, were used to investigate MVI-related genes and mechanisms.


IQGAP3 overexpression was correlated significantly with MVI status and reduced survival in HCC. Upregulation of IQGAP3 promoted MVI+-HCC cells to adopt an infiltrative vessel co-optive growth pattern and accessed blood capillaries by inducing detachment of activated hepatic stellate cells (HSC) from the endothelium. Mechanically, IQGAP3 overexpression contributed to HCC vascular invasion via a dual mechanism, in which IQGAP3 induced HSC activation and disruption of the HSC–endothelial interaction via upregulation of multiple cytokines and enhanced the trans-endothelial migration of MVI+-HCC cells by remodeling the cytoskeleton by sustaining GTPase Rac1 activity. Importantly, systemic delivery of IQGAP3-targeting small-interfering RNA nanoparticles disrupted the infiltrative vessel co-optive growth pattern and reduced the MVI of HCC.


Our results revealed a plausible mechanism underlying IQGAP3-mediated microvascular invasion in HCC, and provided a potential target to develop therapeutic strategies to treat HCC with MVI.


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National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC)

Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province (廣東省自然科學基金)

China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (China Postdoctoral Foundation Project)

Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Fundamental Research Fund for the Central Universities)



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Shuxia Zhang
Meisongzhu Yang
Rongni Feng
Jinbin Lin
Xiaohong Chen
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Xincheng Li
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