OBJECTIVE: Flap endonuclease 1 (FEN1) overexpression has been reported to be closely associated with cancer prognosis. However, its diagnostic and prognostic significance in gastric cancer (GC) has not yet been explored.
METHODS: FEN1 expression, its correlation with clinical parameters, and prognostic significance were investigated by data mining of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) datasets. Patients were divided into low- and high-expression groups using the median value of FEN1 expression as the cut-off. The diagnostic value of FEN1 expression in GC tissues was determined via receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis. Univariate and multivariate Cox regression analyses were used to identify the prognostic indicators. Gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) was used to explore FEN1-related signalling pathways in GC. Furthermore, the Human Protein Atlas (HPA) database and GSE62254 dataset were used for further external validation.
RESULTS: FEN1 was expressed at a higher level in GC tissues than in normal gastric tissues with high diagnostic accuracy (area under the ROC=0.909). Higher FEN1 expression was also validated at the protein level using the HPA database. High FEN1 expression in GC was correlated with older age (P<0.05). Patients with high FEN1 expression had a favourable prognosis compared to patients with low FEN1 expression (P=0.0048). Univariate and multivariate analyses revealed that FEN1 was an independent predictive factor associated with overall survival in both the TCGA cohort and the GSE62254 dataset (P=0.0004 and P=0.011, respectively). GSEA identified that the FEN1 expression was related to DNA replication, cell cycle, cytosolic and sensing pathways, oocyte meiosis, and the P53 signalling pathway.
CONCLUSION: The results revealed high expression of FEN1 in GC; thus, it could be a promising early diagnostic and independent prognostic biomarker for GC.
Keywords: Diagnosis FEN1 Gastric cancer Prognosis TCGA database