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Molecular profiling of tumour budding implicates TGFβ-mediated epithelial-mesenchymal transition as a therapeutic target in oral squamous cell carcinoma

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Although tumour budding is an adverse prognostic factor for many cancer types, the molecular mechanisms governing this phenomenon are incompletely understood. Therefore, understanding the molecular basis of tumour budding may provide new therapeutic and diagnostic options. We employ digital image analysis to demonstrate that the number of tumour buds in cytokeratin-stained sections correlates with patients having lymph node metastases at diagnosis. The tumour bud count was also a predictor of overall survival, independent of TNM stage. Tumour buds and paired central tumour areas were subsequently collected from oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) specimens, using laser capture microdissection, and examined with RNA sequencing and miRNA-qPCR arrays. Compared with cells from the central parts of the tumours, budding cells exhibited a particular gene expression signature, comprising factors involved in epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and activated TGFβ signalling. Transcription factors ZEB1 and PRRX1 were up-regulated concomitantly with the decreased expression of mesenchymal-epithelial (MET) transcription factors (eg OVOL1) in addition to Krüppel-like factors and Grainyhead-like factors. Moreover, miR-200 family members were down-regulated in budding tumour cells. We used immunohistochemistry to validate five markers of the EMT/MET process in 199 OSCC tumours, as well as in situ hybridization in 20 OSCC samples. Given the strong relationship between tumour budding and the development of lymph node metastases and an adverse prognosis, therapeutics based on inhibiting the activation of TGFβ signalling may prove useful in the treatment of OSCC.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of pathology
Volume236
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)505-16
Number of pages12
ISSN0022-3417
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015

    Research areas

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Biomarkers, Tumor, Carcinoma, Squamous Cell, Disease-Free Survival, Drug Design, Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition, Female, Gene Expression Profiling, Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Head and Neck Neoplasms, Humans, Immunohistochemistry, In Situ Hybridization, Kaplan-Meier Estimate, Laser Capture Microdissection, Lymphatic Metastasis, Male, MicroRNAs, Middle Aged, Molecular Targeted Therapy, Mouth Neoplasms, Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis, Phenotype, Polymerase Chain Reaction, Predictive Value of Tests, Reproducibility of Results, Retrospective Studies, Signal Transduction, Time Factors, Transforming Growth Factor beta

ID: 46000661