BCAT1, a key prognostic predictor of hepatocellular carcinoma, promotes cell proliferation and induces chemoresistance to cisplatin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background & Aims: BCAT1 initiates the catabolism of branched-chain amino acids. Here, we investigated the function of BCAT1 and its transcriptional regulatory mechanism in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Methods: RNASeq was used to evaluate BCAT1 mRNA levels in HCC and normal matched specimens. After the exogenous expression of BCAT1 in BEL-7404 cells and the suppression of endogenous BCAT1 expression with shRNA in HepG2 cells, the cell proliferation, clone-forming ability and cell-cycle changes were measured with MTT assay, colony-forming assay and flow cytometry respectively. A xenograft model was used to investigate the effect of BCAT1 on cancer growth in vivo. Chromatin immunoprecipitation and luciferase reporter technologies were used to confirm the transcriptional regulation of the BCAT1 gene by MYC. The expression of the BCAT1 and MYC proteins in 122 HCC tissues was determined with an immunohistochemical analysis. Results: BCAT1 mRNA was clearly increased in HCC tissues and hepatomas. The ectopic expression of BCAT1 in BEL-7404 cells enhanced their proliferation, clone formation, tumourigenic properties, S-G2/M phase transition and chemoresistance to cisplatin. The suppression of BCAT1 expression in HepG2 cells significantly inhibited their proliferation, clone formation, and S-G2/M phase transition and caused their chemosensitization to cisplatin. MYC affected the transcriptional regulation of BCAT1. Clinical data showed that BCAT1 expression correlated with a significantly poorer prognosis. Conclusion: BCAT1 plays a pathogenic role in HCC by causing cell proliferation and chemoresistance. The MYC transcription factor is involved in regulating the transcriptional activity of BCAT1. BCAT1 expression has prognostic significance for the survival of patients with HCC.


  • Yi Hu Zheng
  • Wei Jian Hu
  • Bi Cheng Chen
  • Hooi Min Tan Grahn
  • Yan Rong Zhao
  • Hai Li Bao
  • Ye Fan Zhu
  • Qi Yu Zhang
External organisations
  • Wenzhou Medical University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cancer and Oncology
  • Cell and Molecular Biology


  • MYC, BCAT1, Hepatocellular carcinoma
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1836-1847
JournalLiver International
Issue number12
Early online date2016 Jun 1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Publication categoryResearch