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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Cancer 1/2018

Coordinated expression and genetic polymorphisms in Grainyhead-like genes in human non-melanoma skin cancers

BMC Cancer > Ausgabe 1/2018
Agnieszka Kikulska, Tobias Rausch, Ewa Krzywinska, Magdalena Pawlak, Bartek Wilczynski, Vladimir Benes, Piotr Rutkowski, Tomasz Wilanowski
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12885-017-3943-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



The Grainyhead-like (GRHL) transcription factors have been linked to many different types of cancer. However, no previous study has attempted to investigate potential correlations in expression of different GRHL genes in this context. Furthermore, there is very little information concerning damaging mutations and/or single nucleotide polymorphisms in GRHL genes that may be linked to cancer.


DNA and RNA were extracted from human non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC) and adjacent normal tissues (n = 33 pairs of samples). The expression of GRHL genes was measured by quantitative real time PCR. Regulation of GRHL expression by miRNA was studied using cell transfection methods and dual-luciferase reporter system. Targeted deep sequencing of GRHL genes in tumor samples and control tissues were employed to search for mutations and single nucleotide polymorphisms. Single marker rs141193530 was genotyped with pyrosequencing in additional NMSC replication cohort (n = 176). Appropriate statistical and bioinformatic methods were used to analyze and interpret results.


We discovered that the expression of two genes – GRHL1 and GRHL3 – is reduced in a coordinated manner in tumor samples, in comparison to the control healthy skin samples obtained from the same individuals. It is possible that both GRHL1 and GRHL3 are regulated, at least to some extent, by different strands of the same oncogenic microRNA – miR-21, what would at least partially explain observed correlation. No de novo mutations in the GRHL genes were detected in the examined tumor samples. However, some single nucleotide polymorphisms in the GRHL genes occur at significantly altered frequencies in the examined group of NMSC patients.


Non-melanoma skin cancer growth is accompanied by coordinated reduced expression of epidermal differentiation genes: GRHL1 and GRHL3, which may be regulated by miR-21–3p and -5p, respectively. Some potentially damaging single nucleotide polymorphisms in GRHL genes occur with altered frequencies in NMSC patients, and they may in particular impair the expression of GRHL3 gene or functioning of encoded protein. The presence of these polymorphisms may indicate an increased risk of NMSC development in affected people.
Additional file 1: Table S1. Description of individuals with NMSC (fresh tissues, NGS). Table S2. SureSelect HaloPlex Design (analyzable regions). Table S3. Total number of NMSC patients including the replication cohort – general description. Fig. S1. Levels of GRHL1 protein in HaCaT cells transfected with miR-21–3p mimic or inhibitor. (DOC 240 kb)
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