1. Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Qilu Hospital, Cheeloo College of Medicine, Shandong University, Shandong Key Laboratory of infectious respiratory diseases, Jinan, China.
2. Department of Pulmonary Disease, Jinan Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital, Jinan, China.
3. Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Qilu Hospital of Shandong University, Shandong Key Laboratory of infectious respiratory diseases, Jinan, China.
Background: Metabolic reprogramming plays an important role in tumor progression and antitumor immunity. START domain-containing proteins (STARDs) are responsible for lipid metabolism. However, the underlying functions of STARDs in lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD) have not been clarified yet.
Methods: Oncomine, UALCAN, TCGA and CPTAC were used to explore the expression landscape and clinicopathological characteristics of STARDs in LUAD. Diagnostic and prognostic values were assessed by Kaplan-Meier Plotter, Cox regression analysis, and ROC curve. GeneMANIA, GO, KEGG and GSEA were applied for exploring the potential biological functions. Epigenetic process, including mutation and m6A modification were analyzed by cBioPortal and TCGA. TIMER, TISIDB and TCGA cohort provided an immune signature. The correlation between STARDs expression and ferroptosis was analyzed by TCGA. Finally, the STARDs expression were confirmed by RT-qPCR and western blot.
Results: STARD5/10/14 were overexpressed in LUAD compared with normal, while STARD4/7/8/11/12/13 were relatively low. STARD5/12/14 levels were positively related to clinical and lymph node stage. Survival analysis showed high STARD12 expression was associated with favorable overall survival, disease special survival as well as disease free survival, while STARD14 showed the opposite. GSEA analysis found STARD12 and STARD14 were associated with glycolysis, oxidative phosphorylation and tumor related signaling pathways. STARD12 co-expressed genes participated in cell cycle and DNA replication, and STARD14 were enriched in ECM-receptor interaction. Both STARD12 and STARD14 were corelated with epigenetic regulation, especially TP53 mutation and m6A modification. STARD12 expression was positively correlated with TMB level. The level of STARD12 was significantly associated with the abundance of infiltrating immune cells, including B cells, CD8+T cells, macrophages, dendritic cells, and chemokine, receptor, MHC, immunostimulatory related genes. STARD14 was negatively associated with the infiltration of CD8+T cells, while positively with CCL28 and immune checkpoints, including CTLA4 as well as PD-L2. In addition, STARD12/14 could regulate the ferroptosis related genes.
Conclusion: STARD12 and STARD14 were expected to be potential biomarkers for LUAD, which were associated with epigenetic regulation, immune infiltration and ferroptosis.
Keywords: lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD), prognosis, epigenetic regulation, m6A modification, ferroptosis, immune infiltration