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Identification of TIAM1 as a Potential Synthetic-Lethal-like Gene in a Defined Subset of Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Lookup NU author(s): Chalermsin Permtermsin, - Lalchungnunga, Dr Sirintra Nakjang, John CasementORCiD, Dr Laura Ogle, Professor Helen ReevesORCiD, Dr Gordon Strathdee, Dr Ruchi ShuklaORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2023 by the authors.Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer, has very poor outcomes. Current therapies often have low efficacy and significant toxicities. Thus, there is a critical need for the development of novel therapeutic approaches for HCC. We have developed a novel bioinformatics pipeline, which integrates genome-wide DNA methylation and gene expression data, to identify genes required for the survival of specific molecular cancer subgroups but not normal cells. Targeting these genes may induce cancer-specific “synthetic lethality”. Initially, five potential HCC molecular subgroups were identified based on global DNA methylation patterns. Subgroup-2 exhibited the most unique methylation profile and two candidate subtype-specific vulnerability or SL-like genes were identified for this subgroup, including TIAM1, a guanine nucleotide exchange factor encoding gene known to activate Rac1 signalling. siRNA targeting TIAM1 inhibited cell proliferation in TIAM1-positive (subgroup-2) HCC cell lines but had no effect on the normal hepatocyte HHL5 cell line. Furthermore, TIAM1-positive/subgroup-2 cell lines were significantly more sensitive to the TIAM1/RAC1 inhibitor NSC23766 compared with TIAM1-negative HCC lines or the normal HHL5 cell line. The results are consistent with a synthetic lethal role for TIAM1 in a methylation-defined HCC subgroup and suggest it may be a viable therapeutic target in this subset of HCC patients.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Permtermsin C, Lalchungnunga H, Nakjang S, Casement J, Ogle LF, Reeves HL, Strathdee G, Shukla R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Molecular Sciences

Year: 2023

Volume: 24

Issue: 7

Print publication date: 01/04/2023

Online publication date: 28/03/2023

Acceptance date: 27/03/2023

Date deposited: 05/05/2023

ISSN (print): 1661-6596

ISSN (electronic): 1422-0067

Publisher: MDPI


DOI: 10.3390/ijms24076387


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Funder referenceFunder name
C18342/A23390Cancer Research UK CRUK (open competition)