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Hum Pathol. 2009 Oct;40(10):1418-26. doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2008.12.019. Epub 2009 May 9.

Cell signaling in endometrial carcinoma: phosphorylated 4E-binding protein-1 expression in endometrial cancer correlates with aggressive tumors and prognosis.

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Department of Pathology, Vall d'Hebron University Hospital, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.


In the oncogenic process, cell growth control plays a crucial role, and growth factor receptors and their signaling pathways are known to be altered in endometrial cancer, mostly in type I carcinomas. Two main pathways are involved in transmitting the proliferative signal from the membrane receptors to the nucleus: phosphatydil-inositol-3-kinase-protein kinase B-mammalian target of rapamycin and RAS-RAF-ERK pathways. A final effector of these signaling cascades is the cap-dependent mRNA translation initiation complex, which is negatively regulated by 4E-BP1. The aim of our work was to study the relative importance of the factors involved in these pathways and to see their correlation with the clinicopathologic features of the tumors and their prognosis. We studied 120 endometrial carcinomas, including 93 type I and 27 type II carcinomas, and 18 control cases. Tissue microarrays were constructed and immunohistochemistry was performed for HER2, p53, and the phosphorylated forms of protein kinase B, extracellular signal-regulated kinase, and 4E-BP1. HER2 was overexpressed in 11% of carcinomas but not in control cases, and 30% of carcinomas showed activation of protein kinase B and extracellular signal-regulated kinase, mostly in type II carcinomas. The phosphorylated form of 4E-BP1 was found to be cytoplasmic in 31% of cases, and in 63% of cases it showed nuclear expression; the latter was only found in carcinomas. p53 positivity was found in type II and in grade 3 type I carcinomas. This nuclear expression of phospho-4E-BP1 and HER2 overexpression were the only characteristics with prognostic significance. The activation of the signaling pathways that control cell growth is a common event in endometrial carcinomas. 4E-BP1 is a downstream effector of these pathways whose activation status correlates with aggressive phenotypes and prognosis. This factor can reflect the activity of these pathways, regardless of the upstream molecular alterations, and, therefore, it can be a hallmark of the transmission of the oncogenic signal to the nucleus.

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