Differential Activation of ERK Signaling in HPV-Related Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma
AbstractHuman papillomavirus (HPV)-related oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) forms a distinct tumor entity with better survival clinical outcome. Numerous underlying molecular mechanisms have been postulated for differences in treatment response, but the impact of MEK/ERK signaling, a main driver of carcinogenesis in various cancers including OPSCC and key player mediating therapy resistance remains elusive. In a retrospective experimental cohort study, primary tumor samples from OPSCC patients (n = 124) were available on tissue microarrays (TMAs) and expression levels of phosphorylated ERK1/2 (pERK1/2) were detected by immunohistochemical staining. Correlations of pERK1/2 expression patterns with clinicopathological features and clinical outcome were evaluated by statistical analysis. A low pERK1/2 expression was strongly associated with HPV-related OPSCC, while primary tumors with high pERK1/2 staining showed a distinctly worse survival outcome and were associated with higher cellular differentiation. Co-activation of both ERK1/2 and AKT was a common event and was associated with unfavorable prognosis in our cohort. However, the combinatorial analysis of pAKT (Ser473) and pERK1/2 did not strengthen the predictive power of pERK1/2, suggesting that pERK1/2 plays a more significant function in OPSCC. In summary, our data provide a compelling experimental and statistical evidence that low levels of tumor cell intrinsic ERK1/2 activation contribute at least in part to the favorable outcome of HPV-related OPSCC. On the other hand, presented findings indicate that non-HPV-related OPSCC with elevated ERK phosphorylation are at high risk for treatment failure and might benefit from targeted therapy of MEK/ERK signaling. View Full-Text
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Rong, C.; Muller, M.; Flechtenmacher, C.; Holzinger, D.; Dyckhoff, G.; Bulut, O.C.; Horn, D.; Plinkert, P.; Hess, J.; Affolter, A. Differential Activation of ERK Signaling in HPV-Related Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Cancers 2019, 11, 584.
Rong C, Muller M, Flechtenmacher C, Holzinger D, Dyckhoff G, Bulut OC, Horn D, Plinkert P, Hess J, Affolter A. Differential Activation of ERK Signaling in HPV-Related Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Cancers. 2019; 11(4):584.Chicago/Turabian Style
Rong, Chao; Muller, Marie; Flechtenmacher, Christa; Holzinger, Dana; Dyckhoff, Gerhard; Bulut, Olcay C.; Horn, Dominik; Plinkert, Peter; Hess, Jochen; Affolter, Annette. 2019. "Differential Activation of ERK Signaling in HPV-Related Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma." Cancers 11, no. 4: 584.
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