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Int J Oncol. 2007 Jul;31(1):69-79.

Overexpression of VEGF and TGF-beta1 mRNA in Pap smears correlates with progression of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia to cancer: implication of YY1 in cervical tumorigenesis and HPV infection.

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  • 1Department of Virology, Medical School, University of Crete, Heraklion, Crete, Greece.


The screening of neo-angiogenesis related gene expression has uncovered many disrupted molecular pathways which may significantly confer to malignant transformation of various cell types including cervical cells. The objective of the present study was to delineate whether changes in certain gene expression profiles during the malignant conversion of the uterine cervix can be potentially used to predict the clinical course and outcome of the cervical pathology. Total RNA was isolated from Pap smears obtained from healthy females or patients diagnosed with low-grade squamous cervical intraepithelial lesions (LG-SIL), high-grade (HG)-SIL or cervical carcinoma. VEGF, TGF-beta1 and YY1 mRNA expression levels were assessed by QRT-PCR. Confirmation of YY1 protein discrepancy among cervical tissues of different histopathology was performed by immunohistochemistry. All tested genes showed statistically significant expression variations among the indicated groups. VEGF and TGF-beta1 mRNA overexpression was found to be associated with progression from low-grade to high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), while YY1 showed constitutively elevated transcript levels in CIN and cervical cancer compared to controls. At the protein level YY1 was also overexpressed in HG-SIL and cancer tissues compared to LG-SIL. Both YY1 transcript and protein overexpression were associated with HPV18- or HPV16-infected samples. Spearman analysis revealed a co-expression pattern for VEGF and TGF-beta1 mRNAs in normal cervix and LG-SIL; however, YY1 expression correlated negatively with VEGF and TGF-beta1 transcript levels upon the onset of the cervical neoplastic transformation. Our findings provide for the first time evidence for the implication of YY1 in uterine cervix carcinogenesis and suggest that VEGF, TGF-beta1 and YY1 could be useful biomarkers of cervical malignant transformation as well as potential targets for therapeutic approaches.

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