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Neoplasia. 2008 May;10(5):462-70.

Activation of MAP kinase signaling through ERK5 but not ERK1 expression is associated with lymph node metastases in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC).

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Abteilung Molekulare Genetik (B060), Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


In an attempt to further elucidate the pathomechanisms in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), gene expression profiling was performed using a whole-transcriptome chip that contains 35,035 gene-specific 70 mere oligonucleotides (Human OligoSet 4.0; Operon, Cologne, Germany) to a set of 35 primary OSCCs. Altogether, 7390 genes were found differentially expressed between OSCC tumor samples and oral mucosa. To characterize the major biologic processes in this tumor collection, MAPPFinder, a component of GenMAPP version 2.1, was applied to this data set to generate a statistically ranked list of molecular signaling pathways. Among others, cancer-related pathways, such as mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase signaling (z score = 4.6, P < .001), transforming growth factor-beta signaling (z score = 3.0, P = .015), and signaling pathways involved in apoptosis (z score = 2.1, P = .037), were found deregulated in the OSCC collection analyzed. Focusing on the MAP kinase signaling pathway, subsequent tissue microarray analyses by immunohistochemistry revealed an increase in protein expression of MAP kinase-related proteins ERK1 in 22.8% (48 of 209) and ERK5 in 27.4% (76 of 277), respectively. An association of high ERK5 but not of high ERK1 expression with advanced tumor stage and the presence of lymph node metastases was found (P = .008 and P = .016, respectively). Our analysis demonstrates the reliability of the combined approach of gene expression profiling, signaling pathway analyses, and tissue microarray analysis to detect novel distinct molecular aberrations in OSCC.

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