Abstract: Background Considering melanoma is the deadliest malignancy among dermatoma and presently lacks effective therapies, there is an urgent need to investigate the potential mechanisms underlying melanoma metastasis and determine prospective therapeutic targets for precise treatment of melanoma. Method Hub genes in melanoma metastasis were identified by analyzing RNA-seq data (mRNA, miRNA, and lncRNA) obtained from TCGA database. Then the identified hub genes were validated in human tissues with qRT-PCR, followed by survival analysis. Competing endogenous RNAs of the hub genes were defined to clarify potential molecular mechanism of melanoma progression. Then central gene-related signaling pathways were analyzed, followed by immune cell abundance analysis in tumor microenvironment with CYTERSORTx. Result A tetrad of IL2RA, IL2RG, IFNG, and IL7R genes were determined as hub genes and verified by qRT-PCR, which were significantly associated with unfavorable prognosis in melanoma. LINC02446, LINC01857, and LINC02384 may act as competing endogenous lncRNAs of IL2RA and IL7R through absorbing their shared miR.891a.5p and miR.203b.3p. JAK-STAT signaling pathway identified as the most relevant pathway in melanoma metastasis, as well as a wealthy of genes including TNFRSF 13B, TNFRSF17, TNFRSF9, TNFRSF8, TNFRSF13C, TNFRSF11B, LAG3, NRP1, ENTPD1, NT5E, CCL21, and CCR7, may induce tumor autoimmune suppression through enhancing regulatory T-cell abundance and performance in the tumor microenvironment. And regulatory T-cell proportion was indeed critically elevated in metastatic melanoma relative to primary melanoma, as well as in highly expressed IL2RA, IL2RG, IL7R, and IFNG group than their respective counterparts. Conclusion Elevated IL2RA, IL2RG, IL7R, and IFNG expression may play a central role in promoting melanoma metastasis through up regulation of intratumoral regulatory T-cell proportion mainly by activation of JAK-STAT signaling pathway. LINC02446, LINC01857, and LINC02384 may stimulate melanoma progression by reducing tumor-protecting miR.891a.5p and miR.203b.3p. A number of identified molecules including TNFRSF13B, LAG3, NRP1, ENTPD1, NT5E, CCL21, and CCR7 can serve as future therapeutic targets in melanoma treatment.
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