Exploration of a Novel Prognostic Risk Signature and Its Effect on the Immune Response in Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma
Zhao S., Dong X., Ni X., Li L., Lu X., Zhang K., Gao Y.
Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is a highly invasive and metastatic carcinoma with different molecular characteristics and clinical outcomes. In this work, we aimed to establish a novel gene signature that could predict the prognosis of NPC patients. A total of 13 significant genes between the recurrence/metastasis (RM) group and the no recurrence/metastasis (no-RM) group were identified by machine learning from RNA-Seq data including 60 NPC tumor biopsies. Based on these genes, a 4-mRNA signature (considering U2AF1L5, TMEM265, GLB1L and MLF1) was identified. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) and Kaplan-Meier (K-M) analyses indicated that this signature had good prognostic value for NPC. The overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) of the patients in the high-risk group were significantly shorter than those of the patients in the low-risk group (p = 0.00126 and p = 0.000059, respectively). The area under the ROC curve (AUC) values of the 4-mRNA signature were higher than those of T stage and N stage for OS (0.893 vs 0.619 and 0.582, respectively) and PFS (0.86 vs 0.538 and 0.622, respectively). Furthermore, the 4-mRNA signature was closely associated with cell proliferation and the immune response. The expression of GLB1L and TMEM265 was associated with the level of tumor-infiltrating immune cells (r > 0.4, p < 0.05). We have validated the model through measuring the expression levels of the 4-mRNA signature by qRT-PCR, in an independent cohort of NPC patients. Here, we report a novel gene signature that can serve as a new tool for predicting the prognosis of NPC patients.