Complex interactions in tumor microenvironment between ECM (extra-cellular matrix) and cancer cell plays a central role in the generation of tumor supportive microenvironment. In this study, the expression of ECM-related genes was explored for prognostic and immunological implication in clear cell renal clear cell carcinoma (ccRCC). Out of 964 ECM genes, higher expression (z-score > 2) of 35 genes showed significant association with overall survival (OS), progression-free survival (PFS) and disease-specific survival (DSS). On comparison to normal tissue, 12 genes (NUDT1, SIGLEC1, LRP1, LOXL2, SERPINE1, PLOD3, ZP3, RARRES2, TGM2, COL3A1, ANXA4, and POSTN) showed elevated expression in kidney tumor (n = 523) compared to normal (n = 100). Further, Cox proportional hazard model was utilized to develop 12 genes ECM signature that showed significant association with overall survival in TCGA dataset (HR = 2.45; 95% CI [1.78–3.38]; p < 0.01). This gene signature was further validated in 3 independent datasets from GEO database. Kaplan–Meier log-rank test significantly associated patients with elevated expression of this gene signature with a higher risk of mortality. Further, differential gene expression analysis using DESeq2 and principal component analysis (PCA) identified genes with the highest fold change forming distinct clusters between ECM-rich high-risk and ECM-poor low-risk patients. Geneset enrichment analysis (GSEA) identified significant perturbations in homeostatic kidney functions in the high-risk group. Further, higher infiltration of immunosuppressive T-reg and M2 macrophages was observed in high-risk group patients. The present study has identified a prognostic signature with associated tumor-promoting immune niche with clinical utility in ccRCC. Further exploration of ECM dynamics and validation of this gene signature can assist in design and application of novel therapeutic approaches.
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