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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Identification of the collagen type 1 alpha 1 gene (COL1A1) as a candidate survival-related factor associated with hepatocellular carcinoma

Masamichi Hayashi, Shuji Nomoto*, Mitsuhiro Hishida, Yoshikuni Inokawa, Mitsuro Kanda, Yukiyasu Okamura, Yoko Nishikawa, Chie Tanaka, Daisuke Kobayashi, Suguru Yamada, Goro Nakayama, Tsutomu Fujii, Hiroyuki Sugimoto, Masahiko Koike, Michitaka Fujiwara, Shin Takeda and Yasuhiro Kodera

Author Affiliations

Gastroenterological Surgery (Department of Surgery II), Graduate School of Medicine, Nagoya University, 65 Tsurumai-cho, Showa-ku, Nagoya 466-8550, Japan

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BMC Cancer 2014, 14:108  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-108

Published: 19 February 2014



Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the major causes of cancer-related death especially among Asian and African populations. It is urgent that we identify carcinogenesis-related genes to establish an innovative treatment strategy for this disease.


Triple-combination array analysis was performed using one pair each of HCC and noncancerous liver samples from a 68-year-old woman. This analysis consists of expression array, single nucleotide polymorphism array and methylation array. The gene encoding collagen type 1 alpha 1 (COL1A1) was identified and verified using HCC cell lines and 48 tissues from patients with primary HCC.


Expression array revealed that COL1A1 gene expression was markedly decreased in tumor tissues (log2 ratio –1.1). The single nucleotide polymorphism array showed no chromosomal deletion in the locus of COL1A1. Importantly, the methylation value in the tumor tissue was higher (0.557) than that of the adjacent liver tissue (0.008). We verified that expression of this gene was suppressed by promoter methylation. Reactivation of COL1A1 expression by 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine treatment was seen in HCC cell lines, and sequence analysis identified methylated CpG sites in the COL1A1 promoter region. Among 48 pairs of surgical specimens, 13 (27.1%) showed decreased COL1A1 mRNA expression in tumor sites. Among these 13 cases, 10 had promoter methylation at the tumor site. The log-rank test indicated that mRNA down-regulated tumors were significantly correlated with a poor overall survival rate (P = 0.013).


Triple-combination array analysis successfully identified COL1A1 as a candidate survival-related gene in HCCs. Epigenetic down-regulation of COL1A1 mRNA expression might have a role as a prognostic biomarker of HCC.

Hepatocellular carcinoma; Collagen type 1 alpha 1; Methylation