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Histol Histopathol. 2007 Nov;22(11):1241-9. doi: 10.14670/HH-22.1241.

Survivin phosphorylation and M-phase promoting factor in oral carcinogenesis.

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Department of Surgical Science, Section of Pathology, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy.


Survivin is a recently described inhibitor of apoptosis and mitotic regulator which is selectively over-expressed in human tumors. Its expression rate is predictive of disease progression, early recurrences and resistance to therapy. Up-regulation of survivin in oral pre-malignant lesions (OPL) and in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) has already been demonstrated in previous studies. A critical step for activation of survivin has been identified in the phosphorylation on Thr34 by the main mitotic kinase p34cdc2-cyclin B1. The aim of this work was to investigate the relationship between survivin, its phosphorylated active form (p-survivin) and M-phase promoting factor (MPF), p34cdc2-cyclin B1 in oral carcinogenesis. 32 OSCCs and 17 OPLs from surgical specimens were studied for cyclin B1, p-survivin, survivin, and p34cdc2 expression by immunohistochemistry. All cases of OSCC expressed survivin and its expression rate was correlated to p-survivin levels (P<0.05). Cyclin B1 was positive in 80% of cases, while p-34cdc2 was over-expressed in all OSCCs. All OPLs associated with OSCC expressed survivin and its levels were correlated to p-survivin levels (P<0.05). Cyclin B1 was positive in 70% of cases, while p-34cdc2 was positive in all OPLs. In conclusion, this study demonstrated that MPF, survivin and p-survivin are expressed during early and late phase of oral carcinogenesis. MPF proteins, which are co-expressed on mitotic apparatus, could represent a potential target for therapies based on manipulation of survivin phosphorylation, which would induce apoptosis in cancer cells.

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