Fibrolamellar carcinoma (FLC) is a unique liver cancer primarily affecting young adults and characterized by a fusion event between DNAJB1 and PRKACA. By analyzing RNA-sequencing data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) for >9,100 tumors across ∼30 cancer types, we show that the DNAJB1-PRKACA fusion is specific to FLCs. We demonstrate that FLC tumors (n = 6) exhibit distinct messenger RNA (mRNA) and long intergenic non-coding RNA (lincRNA) profiles compared to hepatocellular carcinoma (n = 263) and cholangiocarcinoma (n = 36), the two most common liver cancers. We also identify a set of mRNAs (n = 16) and lincRNAs (n = 4), including LINC00473, that distinguish FLC from ∼25 other liver and non-liver cancer types. We confirm this unique FLC signature by analysis of two independent FLC cohorts (n = 20 and 34). Lastly, we validate the overexpression of one specific gene in the FLC signature, carbonic anhydrase XII (CA12), at the protein level by western blot and immunohistochemistry. Both the mRNA and lincRNA signatures support a major role for protein kinase A (PKA) signaling in shaping the FLC gene expression landscape, and present novel candidate FLC oncogenes that merit further investigation.
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