Objective: To investigate the mechanism of alanine aminotransferase 1 (ALT1) in the progression of HCC, the differentially expressed proteins (DEPs) in the ALT1 interaction network were identified by targeted proteomic analysis.

Methods: Wound healing and transwell assays were conducted to assess the effect of ALT1 on cellular migration and invasion. Cell Counting Kit-8 (CCK-8), colony formation, and flow cytometry assays were performed to identify alterations in proliferation and apoptosis. After coimmunoprecipitation processing, mass spectrometry with iso-baric tags for relative and absolute quantitation was utilized to explore the protein interactions in ALT1 knockdown HepG2 cells.

Results: The results showed that ALT1 knockdown inhibits the migration, invasion, proliferation of HepG2 cells, and promotes apoptosis. A total of 116 DEPs were identified and the bioinformatics analysis suggested that the ALT1-interacting proteins were primarily associated with cellular and metabolic processes. Knockdown of ALT1 in HepG2 cells reduced the expression of Ki67 and epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EP-CAM), while the expression of apoptosis-stimulating protein 2 of p53 (ASPP2) was increased significantly. Suppression of the ALT1 and EP-CAM expression contributed to alterations in epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) -associated markers and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). Additionally, inhibition of ALT1 and Ki67 also decreased the expression of apoptosis and proliferation factors. Furthermore, inhibition of ALT1 and ASPP2 also changed the expression of P53, which may be the signaling pathway by which ALT regulates these biological behaviors.

Conclusions: This study indicated that the ALT1 protein interaction network is associated with the biological behaviors of HepG2 cells via the p53 signaling pathway.