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Hum Pathol. 2011 Aug;42(8):1078-88. doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2010.11.010. Epub 2011 Feb 21.

SOX2 amplification is a common event in squamous cell carcinomas of different organ sites.

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  • 1Institute of Pathology, Comprehensive Cancer Center, University Hospital of Tuebingen, 72076 Tuebingen, Germany.


Acquired chromosomal aberrations, including gene copy number alterations, are involved in the development and progression of human malignancies. SOX2, a transcription factor-coding gene located at 3q26.33, is known to be recurrently and specifically amplified in squamous cell carcinomas of the lung, the esophagus, and the oral cavity. In these organs, the SOX2 protein plays an important role in tumorigenesis and tumor survival. The aim of this study was to determine whether SOX2 amplification is also found in squamous cell carcinomas in other organs commonly affected by this tumor entity. In addition, we examined a large spectrum of lung cancer entities with neuroendocrine differentiation (ie, small cell cancers, large cell cancers, typical and atypical carcinoids) for SOX2 and TTF1 copy number gains to reveal potential molecular ties to squamous cell carcinomas or adenocarcinomas of the lung. Applying fluorescence in situ hybridization, we assessed squamous cell carcinomas of the cervix uteri (n = 47), the skin (n = 57), and the penis (n = 53) for SOX2 copy number alterations and detected amplifications in 28%, 28%, and 32% of tumors, respectively. Furthermore, we performed immunohistochemical SOX2 staining and found that SOX2 amplification is significantly associated with overexpression of the corresponding protein in squamous cell carcinomas (P < .001). Of the lung cancer entities with neuroendocrine differentiation, only small cell cancers and large cell cancers exhibited SOX2 or TTF1 amplifications at significant frequencies, indicating that at least a subset of these might be dedifferentiated forms of squamous cell carcinomas or adenocarcinomas of the lung. We conclude that SOX2 amplification and consequent SOX2 protein overexpression may represent important mechanisms of tumor initiation and progression in a considerable subset of squamous cell carcinomas.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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