N6-Methyladenosine (m6A) refers to the methylation modification occurring at the nitrogen-6 position of adenosine. Many human physiological processes such as modulation of spermatogenesis are caused by m6A RNA modifications. However, the relationship between m6A RNA methylation regulators and kidney renal clear cell carcinoma (KIRC) remains rarely investigated. This work aimed to explore the influence of m6A RNA methylation regulators in KIRC. We examined abnormally expressed m6A RNA methylation regulators among different clinicopathological features of KIRC. We recognized three subgroups (KIRC1, KIRC2, and KIRC3) with significant differences in overall survival through consensus clustering of m6A RNA methylation regulators. Surprisingly, KIRC2 displayed elevated immune activity, but high proportions of immune-inhibitory cells (Tregs and myeloid-derived suppressor cell) based on single-sample gene set enrichment analysis (ssGSEA) and CIBERSORT analysis. Moreover, the KIRC2 subgroup had the lowest tumor mutation burden levels and the highest expression levels of 80% (12/15) of co-inhibitory molecules. Next, correlation analysis indicated that expression was negatively correlated with multiple immune signatures, which was verified by ssGSEA and CIBERSORT analyses. Multiple immune-related and cancer-related pathways were enriched in the group with high expression. Furthermore, a four-m6A RNA methylation regulator-based risk signature was constructed based on an ArrayExpress (E-MTAB-3267) dataset and confirmed in the The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) testing cohort. In conclusion, our study successfully classified TCGA samples into three subgroups with different immune signatures, and suggested that the worse prognosis of KIRC2 is probably mediated by immune evasion. These findings will facilitate personalized immunotherapy in patients with KIRC. In addition, the risk score system was revealed as an independent prognostic marker that can predict survival in KIRC patients.

References

PubMed