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Mod Pathol. 2011 Jul;24(7):944-53. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2011.49. Epub 2011 Apr 1.

SOX2 gene amplification and protein overexpression are associated with better outcome in squamous cell lung cancer.

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  • 1Institute of Pathology, Comprehensive Cancer Center, University Hospital Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany.


The transcription factor SOX2 (3q26.3-q27) is a key regulator of foregut development and an embryonic stem cell factor cooperating during induction of pluripotency in terminally differentiated somatic cells. Recently, we found SOX2 to be amplified in a subset of squamous cell lung and esophageal cancers. The aim of this study was to explore the prognostic role of SOX2 in a large series of squamous cell carcinomas and adenocarcinomas of the lung. A total of 891 samples from two independent population-based cohorts were assessed by fluorescence in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry. Furthermore, we assessed for associations between SOX2 amplification/upregulation and clinicopathological features. Similar results were found in the two cohorts. Within squamous cell carcinoma cases, 8% high-level as well as 68 and 65% low-level SOX2 amplifications occurred in the two cohorts, respectively. In adenocarcinomas, no high-level amplification was found and low-level amplification occurred in 6% of the two cohorts. Within squamous cell carcinomas of one cohort, SOX2 amplification was associated with lower tumor grade, while higher levels of SOX2 expression were related to younger age, smaller tumor size, and lower probability of angiolymphatic invasion and metastasis. High SOX2 expression levels proved to be a marker for prolonged overall survival among patients with squamous cell carcinomas. In conclusion, SOX2 amplification and upregulation are frequent events in squamous cell carcinomas of the lung and are associated with indicators of favorable prognosis.

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