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Identification of Key Genes in Thyroid Cancer Microenvironment

Kankan Zhao, Hao Yang, Houlong Kang, Aiguo Wu

Department of General Surgery, Zhujiang Hospital, The Second School of Clinical Medicine, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China (mainland)

Med Sci Monit 2019; 25:9602-9608

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.918519

Available online:

Published: 2019-12-16


BACKGROUND: Tumor microenvironment (TME) plays important roles in the development of cancer. However, the roles of TME in thyroid cancer are not well studied. In our study, we aimed to identify genes related to thyroid cancer microenvironment.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: We combined The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and Estimation of STromal and Immune cells in Malignant Tumor tissues using Expression data (ESTIMATE) datasets to identify differentially expressed genes in thyroid cancer microenvironment. Then, using these differentially expressed genes, we constructed protein-protein interaction (PPI) network and conducted functional enrichment analysis. Genes with degree beyond 12 in the PPI network were regarded as hub genes. Finally, we conducted Kaplan-Meier curve and log-rank test and functional enrichment analysis on these hub genes.
RESULTS: There were 793 differentially expressed genes identified to be associated with immune score and stromal score in thyroid cancer microenvironment. We screened out 30 hub genes by construction of PPI network. The functions of these hub genes were enriched in immune cell activity, cytokine and chemokine activity, cell adhesion molecules, and extracellular matrix, which provided further insight into the roles of these genes in the tumor microenvironment. CXCL10, with the highest degrees in the PPI network, were positively related to overall survival of thyroid cancer patients (P=0.02467).
CONCLUSIONS: We identified 30 tumor microenvironment related genes in thyroid cancer. Among these hub genes, CXCL10 can be regarded as a prognostic biomarker in thyroid cancer.

Keywords: Chemokine CXCL10, Thyroid Neoplasms, tumor microenvironment



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