Intestinal metaplasia (IM) is an intermediate step in the progression from premalignant to malignant stages of gastric cancer (GC). The Popeye domain containing (POPDC) gene family encodes three transmembrane proteins, POPDC1, POPDC2, and POPDC3, initially described in muscles and later in epithelial and other cells, where they function in cell–cell interaction, and cell migration. POPDC1 and POPDC3 downregulation was described in several tumors, including colon and gastric cancers. We questioned whether IM-to-GC transition involves POPDC gene dysregulation. Gastric endoscopic biopsies of normal, IM, and GC patients were examined for expression levels of POPDC1-3 and several suggested IM biomarkers, using immunohistochemistry and qPCR. Immunostaining indicated lower POPDC1 and POPDC3 labeling in IM compared with normal tissues. Significantly lower POPDC1 and POPDC3 mRNA levels were measured in IM and GC biopsies and in GC-derived cell lines. The reduction in focal IM was smaller than in extensive IM that resembled GC tissues. POPDC1 and POPDC3 transcript levels were highly correlated with each other and inversely correlated with LGR5, OLFM4, CDX2, and several mucin transcripts. The association of POPDC1 and POPDC3 downregulation with IM-to-GC transition implicates a role in tumor suppression and highlights them as potential biomarkers for GC progression and prospective treatment targets.
- Gastric cancer
- Gastric intestinal metaplasia
- POPDC1 (BVES)