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Cancer Res. 2004 Aug 15;64(16):5578-86.

Aberrant expression of the tyrosine kinase receptor EphA4 and the transcription factor twist in Sézary syndrome identified by gene expression analysis.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, the Netherlands.


Sézary syndrome (Sz) is a malignancy of CD4+ memory skin-homing T cells and presents with erythroderma, lymphadenopathy, and peripheral blood involvement. To gain more insight into the molecular features of Sz, oligonucleotide array analysis was performed comparing gene expression patterns of CD4+ T cells from peripheral blood of patients with Sz with those of patients with erythroderma secondary to dermatitis and healthy controls. Using unsupervised hierarchical clustering gene, expression patterns of T cells from patients with Sz were classified separately from those of benign T cells. One hundred twenty-three genes were identified as significantly differentially expressed and had an average fold change exceeding 2. T cells from patients with Sz demonstrated decreased expression of the following hematopoietic malignancy-linked tumor suppressor genes: TGF-beta receptor II, Mxi1, Riz1, CREB-binding protein, BCL11a, STAT4, and Forkhead Box O1A. Moreover, the tyrosine kinase receptor EphA4 and the potentially oncogenic transcription factor Twist were highly and selectively expressed in T cells of patients with Sz. High expression of EphA4 and Twist was also observed in lesional skin biopsy specimens of a subset of patients with cutaneous T cell lymphomas related to Sz, whereas their expression was nearly undetectable in benign T cells or in skin lesions of patients with inflammatory dermatoses. Detection of EphA4 and Twist may be used in the molecular diagnosis of Sz and related cutaneous T-cell lymphomas. Furthermore, the membrane-bound EphA4 receptor may serve as a target for directed therapeutic intervention.

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