Transcription factor GATA-4 is abundantly expressed in childhood but not in adult liver tumors

Tea Soini, Hanna Haveri, Jenni M. Elo, Marjut Kauppinen, Antti Kyrönlahti, Matti K. Salo, Jouko Lohi, Leif C. Andersson, David B. Wilson, Markku Heikinheimo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objective: Transcription factor GATA-4 is expressed in early fetal liver and essential for organogenesis. It is also implicated in carcinogenesis in several endoderm-derived organs. Hepatoblastoma (HB), the most common malignant pediatric liver tumor, has features of fetal liver including extramedullary hematopoiesis. We investigated the expression of GATA-4 and its purported target gene erythropoietin (Epo) in liver tumors and the role of GATA-4 in HB pathogenesis. Patients and Methods: Immunohistochemistry, Western blotting, and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction were used for liver samples from patients with HB or hepatocellular carcinoma. To further investigate the role of GATA-4 in pediatric liver tumors, we used adenoviral transfections of wild-type or dominant negative GATA-4 constructs in the human HB cell line, HUH6. Results: We found abundant GATA-4 expression in both types of liver tumors in children, whereas it was absent in adult hepatocellular carcinoma. A close family member GATA-6 was expressed in a minority of childhood but not adult liver tumors. Epo, present in the fetal liver, was also expressed in childhood liver tumors. Moreover, cell line HUH6 was GATA-4 positive and produced Epo. We found that altering the amount of functional GATA-4 in HUH6 cells did not significantly affect either proliferation or apoptosis. Conclusions: GATA-4 is abundant in pediatric liver tumors, but unraveling its exact role in these neoplasms requires further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-108
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • GATA-4
  • hepatoblastoma
  • hepatocellular carcinoma
  • transcription factor


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