A multi-omics study delineates new molecular features and therapeutic targets for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma

Xing Jin, Lei Liu, Jia Wu, Xiaoxia Jin, Guanzhen Yu, Lijun Jia, Fengying Wang, Minxin Shi, Haimin Lu, Jibin Liu, Dan Liu, Jing Yang, Hua Li, Yan Ni, Qin Luo, Wei Jia*, Wei Wang*, Wen Lian Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is a major histological subtype of esophageal cancer with inferior prognosis. Here, we conducted comprehensive transcriptomic, proteomic, phosphoproteomic, and metabolomic characterization of human, treatment-naive ESCC and paired normal adjacent tissues (cohort 1, n = 24) in an effort to identify new molecular vulnerabilities for ESCC and potential therapeutic targets. Integrative analysis revealed a small group of genes that were related to the active posttranscriptional and posttranslational regulation of ESCC. By using proteomic, phosphoproteomic, and metabolomic data, networks of ESCC-related signaling and metabolic pathways that were closely linked to cancer etiology were unraveled. Notably, integrative analysis of proteomic and phosphoproteomic data pinpointed that certain pathways involved in RNA transcription, processing, and metabolism were stimulated in ESCC. Importantly, proteins with close linkage to ESCC prognosis were identified. By enrolling an ESCC patient cohort 2 (n = 41), three top-ranked prognostic proteins X-prolyl aminopeptidase 3 (XPNPEP3), bromodomain PHD finger transcription factor (BPTF), and fibrillarin (FBL) were verified to have increased expression in ESCC. Among these prognostic proteins, only FBL, a well-known nucleolar methyltransferase, was essential for ESCC cell growth in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, a validation study using an ESCC patient cohort 3 (n = 100) demonstrated that high FBL expression predicted unfavorable patient survival. Finally, common cancer/testis antigens and established cancer drivers and kinases, all of which could direct therapeutic decisions, were characterized. Collectively, our multi-omics analyses delineated new molecular features associated with ESCC pathobiology involving epigenetic, posttranscriptional, posttranslational, and metabolic characteristics, and unveiled new molecular vulnerabilities with therapeutic potential for ESCC.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere538
JournalClinical and Translational Medicine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

User-Defined Keywords

  • esophageal squamous cell carcinoma
  • fibrillarin
  • molecular feature
  • multi-omics


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