A cellular and bioinformatics analysis of the SENP1 SUMO isopeptidase in pancreatic cancer
Sumoylation is an important post-translational modification that involves the conjugation of the Small Ubiquitin-related Modifier (SUMO) onto target proteins. This modification is reversed through the catalytic activity of SUMO isopeptidases, known as SENPs. One of these SENPs, SENP1, was reported to be overexpressed in human pancreatic cancer cells and patient tissues. Since elevated SENP1 expression levels can be used as a prognostic marker for a subset of cancers, we set out to further explore the overexpression of SENP1 in pancreatic cancer. We found that SENP1 protein levels were not significantly different between pancreatic cancer and normal pancreas-derived cell lines. To evaluate SENP1 expression in patient samples, we analyzed large publicly available datasets and found that SENP1 mRNA levels were significantly lower in pancreatic cancer tissue as compared to normal pancreas tissue samples. Furthermore, we found that the SENP1 gene is amplified in less than 1% of sequenced pancreatic cancer patient samples and that expression levels have no association with patient survival. Based on our analysis, we conclude that SENP1 is not overexpressed in pancreatic cancer and is therefore not likely to be an effective biomarker for this disease. Through this work, we also outline a simple but powerful bioinformatics workflow for the assessment of mRNA expression levels, genomic alterations and survival analysis for putative biomarkers for common human cancers.