Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a heterogeneous disease resulting from the combined influence of many genetic factors. This complexity has caused the molecular characterization of CRC to remain uncharacterized, with a lack of clear gene markers associated with CRC and the prognosis of this disease. Thus, highly sensitive tumor markers for the detection of CRC are the most essential determinants of survival. In this study, we examined the simultaneous downregulation of the mRNA levels of six metallothionein (MT) genes in CRC cell lines and public CRC datasets for the first time. In addition, we detected downregulation of these six MT mRNAs’ levels in 30 pairs of tumor (T) and adjacent non-tumor (N) CRC specimens. In order to understand the potential prognostic relevance of these six MT genes and CRC, we presented a four-gene signature to evaluate the prognosis of CRC patients. Further discovery suggested that the four-gene signature (MT1F, MT1G, MT1L, and MT1X) predicted survival better than any combination of two-, three-, four-, five-, or six-gene models. In conclusion, this study is the first to report that simultaneous downregulation of six MT mRNAs’ levels in CRC patients, and their aberrant expression together, accurately predicted CRC patients’ outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3849
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2 2019


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Gene signature
  • Metallothionein
  • Prognosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'The expression profile and prognostic significance of metallothionein genes in colorectal cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this