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Clin Lung Cancer. 2011 Jul;12(4):237-44. doi: 10.1016/j.cllc.2011.03.025. Epub 2011 Apr 24.

Downregulation of EMX2 is associated with clinical outcomes in lung adenocarcinoma patients.

Author information

  • 1Thoracic Oncology Program, Department of Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, California; Department of Surgery, Division of Thoracic Surgery, Nippon Medical School, Tokyo, Japan.

Erratum in

  • Clin Lung Cancer. 2012 Mar;13(2):160. Beltran, Adam [corrected to Yagui-Beltran, Adam].



The 5-year survival rate for stage I non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) of 50% to 70% indicates that our current staging methods do not adequately predict outcome. Empty spiracles homeobox 2 (EMX2) is a homeo-domain-containing transcription factor that regulates a key developmental pathway known to promote lung tumorigenesis. This study assessed the significance of EMX2 as a prognostic biomarker in lung adenocarcinoma including bronchioloalveolar carcinoma (BAC).


144 patients with lung adenocarcinoma undergoing surgical resection were studied. Quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and Immunohistochemistry were used to analyze EMX2 mRNA and protein expression, respectively. Association of EMX2 mRNA expression levels with clinical outcomes was evaluated using the Kaplan-Meier method and a multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression model.


EMX2 mRNA expression was significantly downregulated in lung adenocarcinoma compared with matched adjacent normal tissue (P < .001). EMX2 protein expression was similarly found to be downregulated in lung adenocarcinoma. The EMX2-high mRNA expressing group had statistically significant better overall survival (OS) than the EMX2-low mRNA expressing group (P = .005). Subgroup analysis also demonstrated improved survival in stage I patients (P = .01) and patients with BAC (P = .03). Lastly, the EMX2-high mRNA expressing group had statistically significant better recurrence-free survival (RFS) than the EMX2-low mRNA expression group in patients with adenocarcinoma (P < .001).


EMX2 expression is downregulated in lung adenocarcinoma. Low EMX2 mRNA expression is significantly associated with decreased OS and RFS in patients with lung adenocarcinoma, particularly with stage I disease and BAC.

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