Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most-common malignancy in the world and is the third cause of cancer-related death worldwide. The development and progression of HCC is a complicated process involving multiple genes and several transforming steps [1, 2]. The exact molecular mechanisms underlying hepatocarcinogenesis have not yet been elucidated. Therefore, searching for new HCC associated molecules may give some clues to study the mechanism of HCC and provide prognostic value in clinical issues.
The BTB/POZ-ZF [Broad complex, Tramtrack, Bric a' brac (BTB) or poxvirus and zinc finger (POZ)-zinc finger] protein family comprises a diverse group of transcription factors. These factors are so named because of a distinct and unique N-terminal BTB/POZ domain and C-terminal DNA-binding zinc finger domains. These proteins have been demonstrated to participate in a wide variety of cellular functions including transcriptional regulation, cellular proliferation, apoptosis, cell morphogenesis, ion channel assembly, and protein degradation through ubiquitination-proteasome system [[3–5]]. A subset of BTB/POZ proteins have been implicated in human cancer, and they include BCL-6 (B-cell lymphoma 6) [[6–9]], PLZF (promyelocytic leukemia zinc finger) [[10–14]], leukemia/lymphoma-related factor (LRF)/Pokemon [[15–18]], HIC-1 (hypermethylated in cancer-1) [[19–23]], NAC-1[[24–29]] and Kaiso [[30–33]].
ZBTB20 gene, also named DPZF , HOF , and ZNF288 , is a new member of the BTB/POZ-ZF family. It has two isoforms due to the alternative translation initiation, both containing an intact N-terminal BTB domain and a C-terminal zinc finger domain . Zbtb20 is preferentially expressed by hippocampal progenitors, and essential for hippocampal development .
In liver, our previous work showed that human ZBTB20 is expressed in fetal liver . In mouse, Zbtb20 is developmentally up-regulated in postnatal liver, and acts as a key transcription repressor of AFP . What's more, ZBTB20 may play an essential role in liver intrinsic functions, possibly through regulating genes such as P450 family members, glucose metabolism and the regulation of the somatotropic hormonal axis .
In the present study, we investigated the expression of ZBTB20 in HCC tissues and its potential association with clinicopathological features and post-resectional survival. Our results suggested that ZBTB20 overexpression can be used as an independent marker for the prognosis of patients with HCC.