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Clin Cancer Res. 2004 Aug 1;10(15):4944-58.

Global gene expression profile of nasopharyngeal carcinoma by laser capture microdissection and complementary DNA microarrays.

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  • 1Oral and Pharyngeal Cancer Branch, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, and Laboratory of Pathology, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


A number of genetic and epigenetic changes underlying the development of nasopharyngeal carcinomas have recently been identified. However, there is still limited information on the nature of the genes and gene products whose aberrant expression and activity promote the malignant conversion of nasopharyngeal epithelium. Here, we have performed a genome-wide transcriptome analysis by probing cDNA microarrays with fluorescent-labeled amplified RNA derived from laser capture microdissected cells procured from normal nasopharyngeal epithelium and areas of metaplasia-dysplasia and carcinoma from EBV-associated nasopharyngeal carcinomas. This approach enabled the identification of genes differentially expressed in each cell population, as well as numerous genes whose expression can help explain the aggressive clinical nature of this tumor type. For example, genes indicating cell cycle aberrations (cyclin D2, cyclin B1, activator of S-phase kinase, and the cell cycle checkpoint kinase, CHK1) and invasive-metastatic potential (matrix metalloproteinase 11, v-Ral, and integrin beta(4)) were highly expressed in tumor cells. In contrast, genes underexpressed in tumors included genes involved in apoptosis (B-cell CLL/lymphoma 6, secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor, and calpastatin), cell structure (keratin 7 and carcinoembryonic antigen-related cell adhesion molecule 6), and putative tumor suppressor genes (H-Ras-like suppressor 3, retinoic acid receptor responder 1, and growth arrested specific 8) among others. Gene expression patterns also suggested alterations in the Wnt/beta-catenin and transforming growth factor beta pathways in nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Thus, expression profiles indicate that aberrant expression of growth, survival, and invasion-promoting genes may contribute to the molecular pathogenesis of nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Ultimately, this approach may facilitate the identification of clinical useful markers of disease progression and novel potential therapeutic targets for nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

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