Tumor Biology

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 2821–2829 | Cite as

Overexpression of HOXC11 homeobox gene in clear cell renal cell carcinoma induces cellular proliferation and is associated with poor prognosis

  • Yu-Jun Liu
  • Yu Zhu
  • Hai-Xia Yuan
  • Jian-Ping Zhang
  • Jian-Ming Guo
  • Zong-Ming Lin
Research Article


Novel evidence has confirmed the involvement of dysregulated expression of HOX genes in cancer. HOX genes are a family of 39 transcription factors, divided in four clusters (HOXA to HOXD), that during normal development regulate cell proliferation and specific cell fate. The aim of this study was to investigate whether genes of the HOXC cluster might play a role in renal cancer. The expression of HOXC11 was detected through polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemical staining, and we demonstrated that HOXC11 was significantly higher in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) compared to normal kidney tissue. We further demonstrated that HOXC11 overexpression in HK-2 human epithelial cell line promoted proliferation, whereas downregulation of HOXC11 endogenous levels in human RCC cells (Caki-2 cells) decreased proliferation. In RCC, expression of HOXC11 and Ki67, a marker of proliferation, correlates strongly with each other (r s  = 0.47, p < 0.003). High immunohistochemical expression of HOXC11 was correlated with T stage (p = 0.06), N stage (p = 0.07), disease stage (p = 0.08), and Ki67 expression (p = 0.07), and patients with tumors showing high number of HOXC11-positive cells had shorter overall survival (p = 0.08) and shorter progression-free survival after treatment (p = 0.08) compared with patients with tumors exhibiting low amount of HOXC11-positive cells. Our data suggest that HOXC11 may contribute to RCC carcinogenesis by increasing tumor cell proliferation and imply that HOXC11 may be an important determinant of RCC patient prognosis.


Renal cell carcinoma Homeobox genes HOXC11 Proliferation Prognosis 



Special thanks to the faculty of Department of Pathology, Zhongshan Hospital, Fudan University.

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Urology, Zhongshan HospitalFudan UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Department of Ultrasound, Zhongshan HospitalFudan UniversityShanghaiChina

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